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Meet Monica

Monica is a very intelligent young lady whose circumstances have also made her extremely resourceful. If we had to describe Monica in one word, that word would be – driven.

Monica came to the United States with her mother, father and five siblings from Kenya when she was a small child. She suffered abuse at the hands of her mother and was removed from her home for the first time when she was only eight years old. Monica bounced back and forth between the system and her home until it became clear at age 14 she could not return to her biological family. Unfortunately, this type of instability is often the case with older youth in out-of-home placements, and it makes it very difficult for them to forge healthy, lasting relationships as a result.

Supportive adults can make all the difference to youth like Monica. She was eventually placed with a foster family who recognized her potential and encouraged her to work hard in school.

“My foster parents treated me as part of the family,” says Monica. “I had birthday and Christmas celebrations just like regular kids. I was one of the lucky ones.”

Passionate about learning and driven to succeed, she finished high school early at age 16, and by age 17 was already a freshman in college. Monica graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Pre-Med and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2013 at age 21, and she just graduated with her Master of Business Administration this spring (2017). 

Monica recognizes the need to have a network of support in place to help her stay on track. She remains in contact with her foster family and works closely with Teresa White, her Iowa Aftercare Services Network Self-Sufficiency advocate at Four Oaks in Dubuque, Iowa. Teresa has been an ongoing support for Monica since she aged out of care, connecting her with additional programming, community resources and even helping her to attain U.S. citizenship last year. 

“This program has been a huge help to me as I have transitioned to adulthood,” says Monica. “I learned the basics of money management, how to navigate student loans, and even grocery shop. More importantly, it’s nice to know you have that support – someone you can talk to when you’re not sure about things.”

Now 24 years old, Monica has been married for a year and has two children, a boy (10 months) and a girl (2 years), with another baby boy on the way. Monica has always been interested in the medical field. She currently works as a fulltime phlebotomist but has plans to return to college to become a nurse practitioner after her baby is born.

When asked what she would like to tell other youth facing the same challenges Monica said,

“Utilize your caseworkers and Aftercare Advocates and let them support you through your life transitions. Sometimes you just need someone there to let you know to keep on pushing and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel."