Tyler (Cincinnati State) Major: Nursing
Tyler came to us on March 7th 2011, the second youth placed in our newly opened group home, and we were so excited to meet him! Tyler arrived with his caseworker and from that day forward when I opened the group home door, I would be greeted with his winning smile. I remember thinking, This is a great looking kid - the file must be wrong about the struggles he faced and poor choices he made in the past.Tyler was smart, charming and knew exactly what to say and how to say it. He told me during his intake that he was ready to change his old ways and was hoping we could help him achieve the goals he already set for himself. Right away I knew Tyler had that “spark,” that something special, and with the right support he could do what most in his position couldn’t - graduate high school.
Tyler told me this was his most important goal: he wanted to be the first in his family to graduate and go to college. He wanted to work in the medical field and really wanted to be a doctor one day. I said, “Tyler, you can do anything you put your mind to, so reach for the stars because the sky is the limit for you!” And that’s exactly what he did. Later in his first school year with us, he was inducted into the National Honor Society! That summer he participated in a Spanish Program at Cincinnati State, where he realized his second goal could become a reality. He recognized that college was not just a dream but something he could achieve, and so he set his sights on getting to college.
The next 15 months would not be just a cake walk for Tyler; he had many roadblocks along the way and his old habits tried to creep back from time to time. But we stayed with Tyler and would not allow him to give up. And Tyler was driven; he had ambition and that kept him going. Month after month we watched Tyler mature and become a leader in the house. He followed the rules, always earned his allowance and worked hard to find a job. By his senior year he was working part time.Tyler continued to press forward and work with the system that had been responsible for him since he was 11 years old. He made sure to take advantage of each program and opportunity so that he would not end up homeless and hungry like most youth who grow up in the foster care system.
Tyler was determined to follow our guidance and when the time came for him to move on his own, he told me he was scared but felt he could make it. The day he moved out, he showed me a box that he kept in his room. Inside were all the cards and notes that I had written him over the past 18 months. Each note of praise or holiday card I had signed with the words I always said to Tyler, “Reach for the stars because if you fall the clouds will catch you - the sky is the limit for you!!” Tyler told me that he’d never forget the impact we had on his life and that Changing Lives was his family. He said that without the unconditional love and support he received he didn’t think he would have made it. Our first emancipated youth and our first success story, Tyler, now lives around the corner from the group home and continues to work at UDF and attend Cincinnati State. He visits us weekly and calls me with new updates in his life. The sky truly is his limit.
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