Wayne Jackson: Former Foster Youth Paying it Forward

Posted by on Feb 11, 2014 in Stories | 0 comments

Wayne Jackson

Wayne Jackson

“Seeing the kids grow is one of the best rewards I get from my job,” says Hathaway-Sycamores Youth Advocate, Wayne Jackson. In and out of foster care since he was 7 or 8 years old, Jackson credits his background in the foster care system and his experiences in Hathaway-Sycamores Transitional Independent Living Program (TILP) with giving him the skills to help the young adults in the program today.

After being emancipated from foster care shortly before he turned 18, Jackson was in Hathaway-Sycamores Transitional Independent Living Program for a year and a half. “I don’t think I’d be where I am today without Hathaway-Sycamores.” TILP gave him the chance to live on his own, learn how to cook, budget and pay bills and take care of his own place. It gave him a sense of independence. “I had a lot of practice messing up food at Hathaway-Sycamores. By the time I got to school I was a pretty good cook.” Wayne is grateful for the life skills he learned at Hathaway-Sycamores because he knew if he had a problem he could solve it himself. Being at school at Howard University in Washington DC, 3000 miles from home, running home to have someone else take care of his problems wasn’t an option.

After graduating from Howard, Wayne returned to Hathaway-Sycamores as a Youth Advocate working with our transitional age youth part time while he studied for the LSAT. Now that he is back at Hathaway-Sycamores, Jackson gets to see the other side, “I remember when I hated talking to my therapist.” Wayne thought, “They’re just making me do all this stuff for no reason.” Now he knows the therapy helped him grow and communicate with people. He likes his role, being in the middle. “I feel like they’re [the youth in the TILP] more open with me. They get a sense I can understand more. I can catch certain struggles before they go through them.”

What’s next for Wayne? He plans on getting his Masters in Public Administration before going to law school. He has already been accepted in one program and is waiting to hear from the other schools where he applied. In the meanwhile he continues to help and inspire the young adults at Hathaway-Sycamores. There is pride and satisfaction in his voice as he states, “I can help change people’s lives.” Everyone at Hathaway-Sycamores is proud of him too!

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