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Bernard Ball of Kentucky is currently pursuing a degree in Social Work. At age 19, he is already laying the groundwork to accomplish his goal of achieving a Ph.D. He has served as president of the State Youth Advisory Council since 2009, a council that gives the foster youth of Kentucky a voice to advocate for policy change and public awareness. He has also served as a youth representative on the Project MATCH Advisory Council a since 2009. In the last few years he has also been an active youth representative and spokesman for the Kentucky Organization for Foster Youth (KOFFY), HOPE Mentoring Kentucky and MAPPS. He has participated in dozens of foster care related events in order to seek out the stories and experiences of other foster youth so that he might best translate their concerns into active solutions. Having spent seventeen years moving in and out of foster care with little support to be found, Bernard has gained an unrivaled perspective, which he uses to help other young people in similar situations. After battling a severe case of pneumonia that left him hospitalized for a month during sophomore year, he realized that he needed to rely on himself and learn to be responsible for his own safety. Bernard notes, “I came out of this struggle realizing that I needed to have more control over my life and be more involved in the decision-making process that would affect my future.” This conviction which he imparts on others as well has molded him into an outspoken leader with strong beliefs and morals. Not surprisingly, Bernard has earned other awards for his achievements including the Outstanding Youth Advocate (Elizabethtown DCBS) and was voted “most likely to start a chain reaction” by his high-school class of 2011. When Bernard is not busy serving the foster care community with his enthusiastic leadership ambitions, he enjoys tennis and football, camping, working on computers, stage production and acting, and excelling in choir, making it into the All-State Chorus, comprised of the best choir students in the state of Kentucky.

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