This is an excerpt from FS#1 college essay; all identifying information has been removed. The essay is reprinted here both with his permission and in his language (I edited the final copy for grammar). The imagery that he invokes nearly brought me to tears the first time I read it.
I was raised around a lot of people who went away and came back. They were not the best people to influence a child and throughout my life I’ve had to rise above much of what I have experienced. I have come to know the meaning of hard work after participating in a lot of extracurricular and life activities. They became my escape from the environment I have worked so hard to overcome. With so much negativity around me, I’ve learned how to listen and learn from the mistakes of my many foster parents.
People around me made a point to say that I could not succeed. I was told that like most, I would become a product of my environment. College was far off for me, something I would hear about only while watching television. My street was filled with “has-beens:” high school basketball players with talent who believed they were going to the big show. Even for my gifted neighbors, college was not an option because of grades and our horrible school system. I felt as if I was going to become like them -- just another statistic. Starting over was something I had gotten used to in my life, having already moved to my third foster family by then. I’ve handled those changes and have come to depend on the unsteady nature of my home life. Most of these sudden changes I had little control over. Leaving on somebody else’s terms was the theme of my life.
During high school I had another family switch and decided to play sports as a means of coping. Since 10th grade I have managed four varsity sports in three seasons. With the challenge of home and school, sports helped me to balance study and a busy schedule. It gave me skills in problem solving and in expressing myself, but more importantly, it was a great distraction to situation.
My goal is to create the circumstances of my life and going to college is the first step. As I’ve gotten old enough to think about my future, it has become important to me to live on my own terms with healthy goodbyes and encouraging support. I want the chance to be happy and I know that going to college will propel me into an environment where that is really possible.