Jeanette Lamont spent 4 years in Washington's foster care system
While in high school, Jeanette made the academic honor roll, received the Governor’s Scholarship for Foster Youth, Passport Scholarship, Educational Training Voucher, as well as a Pell Grant. Also in high school, she was elected vice president of the Lynnwood Youth of Unity. There she mentored youth, planned fund raisers and other events, met with the church’s board members, organized the church youth group, and cared for young children. After that, Jeanette was inspired to volunteer for Technically Learning, a non-profit that promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education in public schools. She was able to uniquely assist with administrative and programmatic projects and influencing policy on education because of her current experience as a student. She became vice-president of her church youth group and achieved a green-brown rank in Shaolin Kempo martial art.
She continues her quest for knowledge and community in college. As a student at the prestigious University of Washington in Seattle, Jeanette became a member of Phi Sigma Theta National Honor Society.
Jeanette has been a part of the foster care system at several different points in her life. For some brief period as a baby, and then for a couple weeks at age seven. She was finally placed in the foster care system when she was 14. Her first experience was awful, as she was put into two different temporary homes for “high-risk” children. There she was verbally abused and eventually raped by a caregiver. Teachers told her she would never graduate high school. In her words, “None of the adults I worked with spoke positively of me until my senior year of high school.”
But Jeanette sees the challenges in her life as profound opportunities to learn and to help others. Of foster children she says, “Foster kids and foster alumni are the only people who know what the state systems are like. All of our experiences are unique, but we share many troubles and challenges. During my time in foster care I had to advocate for myself the things I needed and wanted. I hope to give other kids the confidence and knowledge they need to do the same. Self-advocacy is an important skill in any area of life, especially when your life is constantly changing, as it is for most foster youth.”
She says foster kids can help each other. “Words of advice from another foster kid always inspired me more than words from who had no idea what I was going through. Sometimes understanding makes the difference in whether kind words get through to someone. Other foster kids need to know they are not alone, and that they can get through this. In addition, I believe caregivers need to know what foster kids need to succeed in life so they can better prepare us for the rest of our lives.”
Jeanette Lamont has faced a lot of extreme challenges, but is headed for great things. She has clearly prepared herself for the rest of her incredibly successful life.