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I’ve been thinking about writing a new blog post for quite awhile now. However, me being who I am, I’ve been waiting for the right inspiration or topic to come along. Sitting at my desk today, it just hit me that I should write about May! Not only is May National Foster Care month, it’s also been quite an exciting month for me.

For me, the kick off to May started with NRCYD’s Pathways Conference! Wow! Talk about an amazing experience! Being reunited with some of my 10acious 10 All-stars was long over do! I could probably write a book on how impactful this conference was but for time’s sake I’m going to blog the Cliff Note’s Version and reflect on 3 things that I took away:
• New Perspective: The first two days were spent collaborating with runaway and homeless youth (RHY). We did an awesome session and present back focusing on outcomes area’s the Children’s Bureau created for RHY. The result that came from this leaves me speechless. I left with a new perspective in the advocacy work I do and not to mention added members to my family.
• Inspiration: Any doubts or confusion I had about my life and the future before Pathways was definitely gone when I left. Through workshops, my alumni peers, or keynote speakers there were so many “ahh-ha” moments and pieces of inspiration I took with me and will continue to carry for a long time.
• Family: As I mentioned seeing brothers and sister from my All-Star summer was the best.

However, my family grew by like a dozen during Pathways. Meeting and bonding w/ other classes of All-Stars, RHY, and alumni was priceless. It was a week of love, encouragement, and camaraderie. Those that attended know this exact feeling I am attempting to describe but to be honest it’s indescribable. I have memories from Pathways 2011that will last a life- time. Our group create and signed a Permanency Pack to signify our sincerity of family.

Returning back to Missouri, from Pathways I found myself in the midst of my final, finals week—talk about a reality check. I had just experience one of the best weeks of my life and now was faced with the reality I would graduate college in a week. At the time, I was still not coming to terms with this reality. I went through the motions; finished projects/exams, finished my last week at my job, and sold my books back, although this time I also picked up a cap and gown. That was my reality check. College was really over. Anyone who knows me personally knows how tough this was for me to swallow. Education was my one consistency, my crutch if you will and something I felt really good at. With this thought always weighing in the back of my head, I pushed it aside and spend my last week with the people that made college such a great experience making memories we will always hold on too. Then I woke up on Friday May 13—graduation day. It was here and I was the happiest girl on Earth. Not only because, I was achieving a 15 plus year goal but also because the people I love and care about most in the world were there to share it with me. When I say that, I’m not kidding my best friends from high school, my mom, aunts, brother, and cousins, people I consider second families, and not to mention my Iowa bestie/sister/ace Janessa were all there to commence that moment with me. It was picture perfect. In that moment, I realized its moments like that lose some of the meaning when you don’t have people to share it with. It’s moments like that when permanency is crucial. My graduation left me feeling accomplished, blessed, and thankful.

Just two days after becoming a college graduate, I packed up my stuff, loaded up Roxie my SUV and was Tulsa, OK bound. Following I would begin my internship with NRCYD. Soon after arriving in Tulsa, I was greeted by my brother, Shaden. We set up our apartment, shared memories from our All-Star summer, and prepared for our summer together.

The past two weeks have been AMAZING! Have you ever felt like you’re in the right place and at the right time? Well, that’s exactly how I feel right now. NRCYD has welcomed us into the family and I love the work we do.

Within two weeks I’ve written an article for our E-Updates, participated in calls with federal officers, made recommendations that will affect major policy’s, worked with outstanding curriculum in strategic sharing and countless others. I can’t imagine how much I’m going to learn, develop, and experience this summer. As a recent graduate, I could not design a better internship. Each day, I get to wake up and work on a cause I’m completely passionate about. Not to mention I’m doing it with a seasoned team that I have so much respect for and am learning so much from. Pinch me? I know it’s not a dream, it is my reality and it demonstrates the truth that hard work pays off.

They say, “April showers bring May flowers”. For me that couldn’t be truer. Seeds that were planted years and years ago are in full bloom this month. I hope this blog portrays what beautiful flowers they are too! Pathways, Graduation, and my internship have all brought me such happiness. Last night, I changed my Facebook status so that it read “is in a real happy time of life right now and is totally taking time to enjoy it!” My challenge to those of you reading this is to do the same. Find happiness and take the time to enjoy it!

May 27, 2011 By ashjack0808