CALIFORNIA – Brandy Renee Taylor calls the University of California Riverside home after she graduated with her undergraduate degree in 2013, and now is studying to get her MBA.
However, “home” is a word that Taylor means when she says it, because for years she didn’t have one.
“You didn’t know where you were going to go, you didn’t know what the other people were going to be like because a lot of the times you were not the only kids in these homes,” said Taylor.
Given Taylor’s professional demeanor it is hard to tell she has been through a tough time. At nine years old, after being raised by her grandparents, Taylor, and her older sister became foster children. Bouncing from home to home, no more than eight weeks at a time for the better part of four years.
Those four years had an everlasting effect on Taylor.
“You don’t really get used to anything, and eventually you can feel like you didn’t want to get used to anything because you’re always afraid it’s going to be taken away,” Taylor said.
Taylor isn’t alone as a product of the foster care system. She is among a small minority to graduate college. According to the Alliance for Children’s rights, 28,000 children are currently in foster care in Los Angeles. Without the help of UCR’s Guardian Scholars program, which serves about 150 foster youth students at the university in everything from financial aid to counseling, she may have fallen into the majority 97 percent of foster youth don’t graduate college.
Her grandparents have since passed, but she holds their sacrifice close her heart - as she does her niece and nephew - whom she dedicates the future to. What she once saw as a disadvantage, has now become her greatest strength.
“I now have built a community and have a wonderful support system of friends that are my family. And I have a strength that I don’t think I would have had if I didn’t go through what I went through,” said Taylor.
Home doesn’t have to be a place you seek sometimes it’s the place that seeks you.