She walks into the office wearing her infectious smile; her cheery laugh greets your ears long before you see her.
She waves good morning as she heads for her desk, and as you wave back, suddenly, you’re happy because you know at some point in the day you’ll have a good laugh.
Laura Adkins is witty and fun; she’s lighthearted and is always sure to leave you hunched over in laughter. She brings a matchless atmosphere to Foster Care to Success (FC2S)—not just because of her personality, but because of her passion.
Laura is always there to answer questions and offer advice and guidance. She’s always ready and willing to give the best of herself to students and staff alike, because of her compassion and commitment to service.
Listening to her intently asking parenting students a question, walking them through creating a budget or taking down their address so she can send them books to read to their children, it is clear that Laura was created for the role of guiding parenting students down a pathway to success. The excitement in her voice when she talks about the successes of her parenting students and those “proud mama” moments when she shares their photos just proves it.
Now, after more than 10 years of playing such a significant role in not only the academic success but overall life success of parenting students, it’s time for Laura to take the advice she’s offered to countless others: elevate. It is with both gratitude and sadness that we say goodbye to our parenting liaison, Laura, as she takes the next step of her life into retirement.
We asked Laura to share some of her greatest moments and challenges from working with parenting students over the years, as well as give us a sneak peek into what retirement will look like for her!
You’ve helped FC2S continue growing for the past 10+ years. What have been some of your most memorable moments?
What I’ll remember most are the problems FC2S has solved; all the seeds of hope we’ve planted, and all the seeds that came to fruition. And I’ll always remember the light we brought to dire situations. Every time we’re able to go beyond our mandated work and stop a student from making a terrible mistake, stays with me. And then, the times when we weren’t able to help, wake me up in the middle of the night.
The important issue for me – and I am aware of it every day – is that this job was, and is a privilege; we get to extend the kind of olive branch the student needs or wants.
The coordinators at FC2S should be in the news every day, with a camera and microphone rolling down the aisle, listening to the words, the stories, the resolutions and plans that happen in our cubicles. I don’t know if there’s anything more important in life than to make things better than they were before you got there.
The real challenge is trying to teach students specifically what they have missed during the first 18 years of their life; and how to design it into an engaging, personal conversation, sometimes at a 6th grade level, that encompasses the big picture about financial information, the energy required to raise healthy children, and tie it to their educational plan.
What will you miss most about the work you currently do?
I’ll miss talking with students, but I’ll especially miss hearing that “aha!” moment – often a moment of silence -when they see the bigger picture of what’s truly possible in their lives with the right amount of money, a good plan, and a personal guide who’ll be at the end of the line when they want one. THAT is priceless.
If you could leave your students with finals words of wisdom, what would they be?
You are not your past. The past has happened and now the days belong to you. You are still writing on the slate of who you are. One of the most powerful things you can do is make a happy memory every day, especially if you have children. Make happy memories for them and dedicate yourself to it. At the end of one year you will have SO many happy memories.
One paradox in life is that you can fill yourself up by helping someone else. The more you give, the more you are filled up. Believe it or not, there are people waiting for you to show up in their lives.
What’s one of the first things you plan to do on your first day of retirement?
Sleep as long as I can in the morning. But, there’s a cheerleader who lives in my head, with red and white pompoms, who is so psyched to be alive, so I usually have to get up.
I’ll meditate, drink espresso and be grateful for all the goodness in my life.
I’ll jump up and down in the kitchen while listening to ONE REPUBLIC sing, “Counting Stars” really loud, making the cats hide.
Then, I’ll end the day with an old song, “Louie, Louie.”
“Louie, Louie, me gotta go.” (now go YouTube that.)