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Stephanie prepares for college with help of YVLifeSet program

August 7, 2015
Stephanie is the first in her family to attend college. She plans to pursue social work as a career.

Stephanie is the first in her family to attend college. She plans to pursue social work as a career.

Stephanie, 19, enjoys going shopping with her friends. She buys the same sorts of things they do. The only difference is she pays for it with her own money.

“I guess maybe I appreciate it more,” she said.

Stephanie has worked since she was 15, and recently graduated fourth in her class while maintaining a job. She entered foster care about three years ago and her foster parents were granted guardianship. Her guardian heard about Youth Villages’ YVLifeSet program at church. Chris Scarbrough-Key is her YVLifeSet Specialist.

I was a little reluctant about it at first because I thought it was just going to add more to my plate,” Stephanie said. “I wasn’t excited about it. But then, when we began discussing college and I began to trust Chris.”

The two prepared Stephanie for college, including working on study skills, time management and budgeting. They role-played for more than a month before interviewing to become a YV Scholar, where youth in YVLifeSet receive additional support for college provided they maintain academic and community service requirements.

“Stephanie has come so far from when we began 18 months ago,” Chris said. “She has strong goals, and we had to work on her communicating her ambitions and not getting too stressed about things.”

When she was younger, Stephanie remembers asking her parents if they’d paid the bills. She cooked dinner and took care of the house. At the time, her parents abused drugs.

“I guess I had two ways I could’ve gone and I went the way that made me stronger,” Stephanie said.

Chris toured colleges with Stephanie and helped with financial aid forms. Stephanie wasn’t sure she’d be able to afford college, even mentioning at one point it was “too good to be true.”

“There was so much I didn’t know about, and Chris helped me figure it out,” Stephanie said. “She helps me with pretty much everything.”

She plans to pursue social work, and recently reunited with her mother, who lives with family out-of-state. Stephanie is the first in her family to attend college.

“I trust Chris,” Stephanie said. “I sometimes wait to the last minute to take care of things and get stressed, but Chris is like calm waters. She comes in and helps me get things done.”

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