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Alisha Wauters recently graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s of Social Work degree. Throughout her tenure as a college student, she maintained an excellent GPA, was accepted to the university’s honors program, and made both the dean’s and the president’s lists. She says, “I want to work in child welfare with children experiencing trauma and abuse as well as children affected by drug addiction or mental illness. I hope to help children strive in their environment and find a way to be successful despite the adversities they face.” She has accepted a job with First Resources in Newton, IA providing behavioral counseling to children with mental, psychological and behavioral problems, so she is already well on her way to accomplishing her goals. Alisha was first placed in foster care at age 5 and again at age 7 and then once again at age 9. She says, “Young people who have been in foster care have a different perspective of the foster care system. They can tell exactly what worked for them, what didn’t, and they have ideas of ways to make it better. When a person in power is the only one offering improvements, they can easily become caught up in technicalities, but a young person who is in foster care or has been can look at it from a different view and get outside the box.” She continues, “Youth who have experienced foster care can really be sources of normalization and validation of feelings” for those in foster care. She hopes to use her personal experiences and education “to advocate for youth in care to help them have their voices heard, so that the experience of going into foster care won’t be as traumatic for the child.” While a student, Alisha served as a resident assistant (RA) at the University of Iowa and volunteered for Best Buddies, an organization that pairs volunteers with a person with mental or physical disabilities. She participated in I-SITE, a theater organization that performed skits around campus about domestic violence, healthy relationships, sexual assault, and the university’s consent policy. She also committed her spare time to working with the Johnson County Crisis Center taking calls from people experiencing crisis and calls for suicide prevention. Alisha also took part in fundraisers such as the Out of the Darkness Walk, a Dance Marathon, and a fundraiser for Hometies, a day care in Iowa City for at risk youth. She has also experienced two immersion trips, one to Portland, Oregon where she learned about services for the homeless and how to deal with stereotypes relative to the homeless. The other to Madurai, India, where she assisted with women finding financial resources and learned about social services and domestic violence programs.

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