Since August 2012 Foster Care to Success alumnus Valerie has been living in Florence, Italy working as an architect, teaching, and traveling throughout Europe. Immersed in Italian culture, she has also been studying printmaking, Italian cooking and language. She has on many occasions paused to reflect on the incredible life that she only dreamed of as a child in foster care. She understands now that her struggle ended up being her greatest gift – giving her the strength, resiliency, values, and commitment necessary to arrive at this moment in life.
Valerie entered the foster care system at the age of five and ‘aged out’ at 18, having been placed in 13 homes. After graduating high school in 2004 and community college in 2007 – determined to further her education at the highest levels – Valerie was accepted into the number two ranked undergraduate architecture school in the nation at Syracuse University in New York. From 2007-2012 Valerie was an annual FC2S scholarship recipient, which played a tremendous role in supporting her education and providing steady invaluable mentorship. In May of 2012, Valerie graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree ,when she was awarded the Britton Thesis Medal for Outstanding Thesis Design. Her design project for a new orphanage concept was directly inspired by her experience in foster care.
In March 2014, Valerie was married in Sacramento, California – an occasion made that much more special as it was the first time in over 15 years that four of her six siblings were reunited after having been separated while in foster care. Valerie is currently working on a memoir about her life in foster care and applying to graduate school where she will enthusiastically continue her education in Art and Architecture. And boy, are we proud and happy for her!
Tomorrow, meet Aurora.