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James Hickson spent 5 years in Massachusetts' Foster Care System. Nineteen year old James Hickson is beating all the odds. James, who spent 5 years in foster care, was the first in his family to graduate high school and this spring will become the first to graduate college. He is graduating Quinsigamond Community College with an Associate’s degree and going on to Westfield State College in the fall to pursue his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. James plans on working in the CJ field to assist youth in his own community who are struggling to make positive life choices and provide them with the assistance they need to better their lives. Outside of school, James is very involved as a youth leader within the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. He has participated in several youth leadership conferences as well as state wide youth panels to educate various audiences on the perspectives of youth in foster care. He is also an active member of Massachusetts Central Region Youth Advisory Board. In addition to his community and volunteer work, James works tirelessly to see that his younger siblings have the opportunities he lacked. He acts as a visiting resource and role model to his 13 year old brother and 8 year old sister by serving as their parental contact, taking them on excursions, attending their school conferences, helping them with their homework and guiding them to make healthy choices for themselves. He is determined to better his life and the lives of his siblings. James’ mentor writes; “James works so hard and is such a positive role model to his 3 younger siblings and so many of our kids in care. He is an amazing young man and has so much to teach all of us.” James has spent the past two years living independently in his own apartment. He works full-time at Fisher Auto Parts, maintains top grades at school, and pays his rent, utilities and other expenses on time every month with very little instruction. His mentor writes; “James is an incredible young man.” Agreed!