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Stories / Youth

Gourmet Graduate

The road to success was hard for Jaiana. With her professional mentor Alicia's help she will be the first in her family to go to college.

I had to become an adult by the time I was six years old. My parents were on drugs and my eldest brother lived with my aunt, so it was up to me to provide for my two younger brothers. I missed a lot of school and fell behind in my work. 

My cousin adopted me to get me away from my biological parents, and I thought life would get better, but it didn’t. I was depressed and regularly contemplated suicide. My only outlet was Friends of the Children. 

My Friend Alicia, realizing my talents before I could even grasp them, saw that I had a way with words and insisted that I get involved with the poetry group. After reflecting on being in foster care, losing my brother to gang violence, my dad dying from drug use, and my biological mother not wanting me, I started writing. 

This was the beginning of an independent, more powerful me. I owe a much of my success to Alicia and Friends of the Children. I discovered my passion for the culinary arts, and through Friends of the Children’s job shadow program, I secured an internship with Chef Jeremy, the Seattle Mariners’ head chef.

I decided, the best way to end my time with Friends of the Children would be to auction a dinner during Inspiring Greatness, our annual fundraiser. The dinners I auctioned were a tribute and representation of the relationship I have with Alicia, and the career path I’m choosing. 

I recently turned 18, and I have a 3.0 GPA. No one in my family has ever gone to college, but I’ll be the first: I was just accepted to Seattle Pacific University. College means everything to me. I am majoring in business, and my goal is to own my own food truck. Thanks to Friends of the Children, I have hope, determination, and perseverance. I will succeed!