Fostering Success Michigan                    Student Spotlight                   February 2016
Student Spotlight 
Getting to Know... 
Maggie G.!

Each month, Fostering Success Michigan  features  a Student Spotlight that celebrates the  accomplishments and achievements of students  with experience in foster care.

Do you know a student to spotlight?
Meet Maggie G.!

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What keeps you busy? 

MG: Currently, I am a senior in high school and I am taking many rigorous courses. I chose to take three Advanced Placement classes my senior year, and while it's a great experience, I think I may have taken just a little too much on. However, I am still getting pretty good grades as of now. I plan to graduate on June 5th and then attend Western Michigan University in the fall!

I will be a Seita Scholar, and plan to get involved with the Michigan Youth Opportunity Initiative (MYOI) in their county! During my time at WMU, I plan to pursue a Masters in Social Work degree and eventually go to Cooley Law School.  My dream job would be to work along Mariska Hargitay (Olivia Benson-Law and Order: SVU) and The Joyful Heart Foundation battling child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault.  

FSM:  What is it like to be a part of MYOI? 

MG: I will be forever grateful for MYOI! As a result of MYOI, I have participated in three different conferences that have expanded my knowledge and my connection to outside resources I can use for myself or for others that may need them! In the beginning of September, I was given the opportunity to fly to Florida and attend a conference for foster kids. It was amazing. The people I met there, as well as the workshops provided, assisted me in learning how to act professional and appropriate for an event such as that. The skills I learned when I attended the conference have affected other aspects of my life as well, such as when I am at school, at church, and public functions. 

Another amazing outcome of MYOI is by attending meetings, conferences, and volunteer events, I was able to save a good deal of money in eight months!! With this money, I was able to buy many essential items, such as my laptop, that will help me when I get to college. Beyond that, another perk of MYOI is that many of things that I would normally have to pay for, such as senior pictures and my yearbook, are covered! This is amazing because if we did not have this opportunity many of the youth in the program wouldn't have those mementos! 

FSM: Can you tell us a little bit about the Art Program you are a part of? 

MG:  MYOI also gives us the opportunity to be a part of an art program! Once a month, we have a meeting where instead of learning about different skills and life
 tools or listening to a guest speaker, we are able to express ourselves and show our emotions through art! So far, I have done paintings, self-portraits, wire workings, and we've even incorporated music so we could paint the types of ideas or the feelings we had while listening! The art program has been extremely beneficial to every single one of us, and I couldn't think of a better way to express my feelings!

The image to the right is one such piece of art I have completed as a part of the art program!   
FSM:  Do you have specific area of passion or advocacy? Tell us about it!

MG:   As previously mentioned, my dream job is to work with The Joyful Heart Foundation and Mariska Hargitay! I am and will always be intensely passionate about stopping sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse!! It is my life goal to make a change in our society where people see each other as human beings. 

FSM:  If you had any advice to give to professionals who work with young people who have experienced foster care, what would it be?  

MG:    The first thing that popped into my head when I read this question was. "love them". I don't mean to tell youth you love them when you don't, or that you even have to love them, but you can be a caring supportive adult.  I had a caseworker who was absolutely an angel sent from God.  What I am getting at is that because of how she interacted with me and because she had shown me she cared, she made a huge impact on my life. She proved that there are people who will stick around to love me, and care about me, and she also pointed out that my guardians do the same thing! Show the youth that you care. That's all we want, is someone to care about us. 

FSM: Lastly, do you have any advice for a young person thinking about joining MYOI, an Art Therapy program, or going to college? 

MG:  DO IT!!! I would be kicking myself if I had skipped out! I needed to escape, and the only way to do that was to start being proactive with my life and about my future! I promise you, it WILL get better. If you feel like you need to give up, just push a little father. Do everything you can to get where you need to be successful. It is so worth it. 

My senior quote is from Mariska Hargitay: "I am grateful that I didn't let fear get the best of me. It only holds you back from possibilities and greatness." 
What exactly is the Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative?
Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative  (MYOI) goal is to ensure that young  people in foster care have successful outcomes in housing, education, employment, community engagement and health. It brings together  community members, public and private agencies, and resources that are critical to enhancing the success of young adults who are transitioning or have transitioned from the foster care system.

For more information about MYOI, please click here
What is the Livingston County MYOI Art Program All About?  

The  Livingston County MYOI partnered with the Arthur Secunda Museum at Cleary University to provide an educational art program to youth 14 and over in foster care. Last year the Livingston County
Community Foundation grant funded the program and this year the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Aff airs provided grant funds. 

Through these generous grant donations, many adolescent youth in foster care have had the opportunity to create inspirational art pieces taught by a professional local artist. The youth have painted a life-sized self-portrait as well as a 3-D self-portrait, completed landscape drawings, and much more. Youth have worked individually as well as in groups, many times requiring interpersonal thinking to complete the project. 

Most of all we have fun, laugh, support each other through the art journey, and become a stronger youth board. 
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