CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — If you think back to those years transitioning from school to adulthood, you know a lot of it wasn't easy. Young people who age out of the foster care system often don't have someone to help them on their path. One program looks to change that.
Incoming Austin Peay State University freshman Jahlin Osborne has his next chapter of life neatly squared away, and ready to go.
"It feels amazing, just knowing how many people said I couldn't make it to where I'm at now," Jahlin said, sitting in his new dorm room. "I made it."
It has been a journey to get here.
"When I was 8 years old, me and my siblings, we came into foster care," Jahlin continued. "My mom had a drug addiction. The state pulled us. It honestly was hard growing up. I've never been, like, stable in a house. We always moved around once we got comfortable. Everybody talked bad about foster kids. They say foster kids have no hope."
Jahlin said his story is not predetermined by anything, but many have faced hurdles. The National Foster Youth Institute says about half of youth in the foster care system will graduate high school. They say less than 5% of foster youth graduate from a four-year college. Numbers vary from 2% to 6% to graduate from a two-year college.
"I'm the first in my family to have my diploma," said Jahlin. "I'm the first in my family to go to college. I want to be the first to walk across that stage and get my diploma and get my degree."
Jahlin has help to get there.
LaTanya Johnson is an all-encompassing source of information.
"At least I try to be!" she said with a laugh.
She's a specialist with the LifeSet program through Youth Villages. She works with young people who have just aged out of the foster care system.
"They have a little bit of time to figure out a lot of stuff very, very quickly," LaTanya continued.
She's here for advice on things like money management and finding resources for furthering education. LifeSet is also intended to give resume, interview, and interpersonal skill advice for entrance into the job market.
"You are the driver, I am the passenger," LaTanya said. "Tell me where we're going."
"It can teach you skills you might not have learned growing up in the system," said Jahlin. "We can be whatever we want to be."
"He is by far one of my favorites because he is so personable," LaTanya continued. "He is nothing short of a miracle. He works really really hard and tries to defy all the odds."
For more on the LifeSet program through Youth Villages, visit here.