Ahead of the Curve
Andrea came to live at the Youth Villa after a series of hard, frustrating, and heartbreaking events in her life. A death in her family had fractured the relationships she clung to, and conflict continued to erupt at home. Her grades were low due to the stress of worrying about the adults in her life. “I was distracted,” Andrea said. “I had a lot going on.” She was drowning in negativity.
“My first impression of this place was that I had never seen anything like it,” Andrea remembered about her arrival at the Youth Villa. “You get comfortable after a while.”
Comfort is not the same as change. “When I first came in, my mindset was so negative,” she said. Andrea spent a lot of her time at the Villa focused on what had gone wrong in her life, and before long, her progress was at a standstill.
The patience of her cottage parents, a customized growth plan from the Youth Villa staff, and a change in schools gradually began to crack open her shell. She began to see her path toward success. Three years later, her 0.9 grade point average has catapulted to a 4.0. Andrea is no longer wasting her time dwelling on the negative.
“I realized I can’t worry about that all the time,” she explained. Today, she is your typical teenager— full of restless energy, quick to break into a smile, and an avid fan of all genres of music.
“My attitude is probably the biggest change since coming here,” Andrea said. “I feel like I’ve changed because I know that everything happens for a reason. I’m in a good place and I will keep going.”
Andrea’s progress is nothing short of inspiring. Catching up in school wasn’t enough for her—she’s on track to graduate in the spring of 2020 at the age of 17, a full year ahead.
“I like challenging myself,” Andrea said. “A lot of people said that my background would define me, and that wasn’t the truth. I’m proving them wrong.”
Her future goals are just as lofty as her current ones. Andrea plans on working toward her master’s degree and going into social work. This career has been at the back of Andrea’s mind long before she found her home at the Youth Villa.
“I decided I wanted to be a social worker when I was little. I was in foster care in South Carolina when I was 6 years old. Even though I was little, I still remember how my caseworker talked to me about how much she enjoyed her job and how it can change kids’ lives. It really impacted me.”
“I want to be one of those social workers who is there emotionally for the kids and enjoy what I’m doing,” Andrea said.
A typical day is filled with a loaded class schedule, chores, and family dinner with the other girls in her cottage and their cottage parents. Andrea enjoys the moments of peace where she can relax in her room. She gets comfortable on her bed and draws in a sketchbook, journals, listens to music, or reads.
“It’s my comfort zone,” Andrea said. “I love it.”
Andrea’s time at the Youth Villa has turned her life completely around. Once she made the decision that she was going to get the most out of her life, nothing could stop her.
“I’ve been through a lot, but you wouldn’t know it because of how much I’ve kept going and kept trying to do the best for myself.”
With determination like that, it makes sense that Andrea’s advice for other people in her situation would be spot on: “Don’t let what you go through define you, just learn from it. Everything you go through is a lesson in life. So don’t take the negative from it, take the positive.”
Thank you for giving Andrea the opportunity to become the smart, driven, and successful young woman she is today.