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Dereon spent six years in New York’s foster care system, experiencing three different placements during that time. Since then, Nineteen-year-old Dereon has transitioned to living independently, found and completed his first semester at a college that fit his needs and academic and athletic ability, and remained active in his local youth advisory board. One supportive adult said of Dereon and his determination, “Since I have known Dereon, he has been a polite, driven and accomplished young man and a truly exemplary role model. In his first semester, Dereon navigated an extremely tough class schedule, demanding Varsity football schedule, a brand new campus 100 miles away from his resources and a whole new, independent way of life in college was an absolute accomplishment.” Transitioning to college is no easy feat, and to do so in a completely new environment deserves recognition in itself, particularly for foster care alumni whose supports often look different than those of traditional families. In the summer, Dereon works with the youth at St. Augustine church, and he has maintained a close relationship with many from his faith community despite the distance. Even with his busy schedule, Dereon is active in his local Youth Advisory Board, Youth in Progress which advocates for the needs of youth in care in New York. The first semester of college is the hardest, and if Dereon was able to balance all of these activities at once during such a time of transition, we have no doubt we’ll be seeing him in a graduation cap in a few short years.

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