From tragedy to inspiration: woman who grew up in foster system defies odds
LaQuana Chappelle’s best friend overdosed on sleeping pills when she was just 15. She was lying right next to her when she did it, as the girls were wards of New York City’s foster care system. Chappelle understood why her best friend claimed her own life as she herself had been under more than 40 roofs in search of family.
Despite her trials, Chappelle has worked to overcome the odds.
“I saw what was beating her down,” Ms. Chappelle said. “What was beating her down was fake friends. What was beating her down was her life, her circumstances.”
Her own upbringing had been dismal. When Ms. Chappelle was 11, she began running away from home to escape a mother who, she said, had been physically and emotionally abusive. She entered foster care at 12.
Her friend’s death realigned Ms. Chappelle’s priorities.“I went through my mourning period and I turned my life around,” she said. “I used to drink a lot when I was a kid. I cut that out. I got my G.E.D. when I was 17. I started working. I gave up a lot of stuff and a lot of people.”
Now at 26, Chappelle has gone on to obtain her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Touro College, and is now pursuing a master’s degree in web and multimedia design at the institution. While the single mother of three still has challenges, she plans to give back to those in need.
Chappelle hopes to one day open a supportive housing program for young people in the foster care system. Employment opportunities and educational preparation would be available to teens on-site, and the would be placed in single-residence occupancy rooms where they would be responsible for paying rent and maintaining their own budgets.
Much success to Laquana Chappelle as she pursues a better life for herself and her children.
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