Holly Allen spent 17 years in Washington's foster care system Holly Allen has that rare combination of skills and personality traits that allows her to do almost anything she sets her mind to, nevermind the obstacles. Holly is only 21 years old but has spent 17 of those years in foster care. One of the finest students at Riverside Christian High School, a well-regarded and academically challenging private school in Yakima, Washington, Holly was also an excellent athlete. She pursued both academics and athletics when she enrolled at Yakima Valley Community College after high school. Taking only the most difficult and challenging courses, Holly scored nearly a 4.0 GPA and her grades regularly put her on the President’s or Dean’s List of esteemed scholars at YVCC. Her accomplishments were recognized when she was awarded the highly prized YVCC Foundation scholarship. Although intently focused on her schoolwork, she volunteered to coach volleyball and work at basketball games at her alma mater, Riverside Christian, and spent time helping out at the Union Gospel Mission. Holly understood her capacity to affect change in the foster system that has been her life through her active membership in The Mockingbird Society. This organization fights to better the lives of youth in the foster care system in District 2. She served as a mentor in a college mentorship program for foster youth, and was in constant contact with the Foster Teen Program and Casey Family Programs even while away at school. With determination and hard work, Holly graduated in just two years with an Associate Arts degree from Yakima Valley Community College. She then transferred to Central Washington University with her eye on a Bachelor’s degree in K-8 education. There she has settled right in to her usual habits—hard work and focus—resulting in good grades, a job as a dorm manager and more opportunities to help others through volunteer work. This time her efforts resulted in a trip to Washington, D.C. with the College Success Foundation, an organization devoted to supporting first generation college students. Holly’s mentor is proud and thrilled that Holly has been nominated as an Outstanding Young Leader. As she says, “I have no doubts that she will soon be back in our community, working as an elementary education teacher. She is an extremely enthusiastic, high energy, kind person that I highly recommend for this honor!” Holly’s biggest contribution as a teacher might just be the example she sets for her students and everyone she comes in contact with—set your mind to what you want, work hard, and it can be yours.