Recent Lubbock high school graduate and Buckner Aftercare alum Tenneil Wallace has a lot to smile about. Tenneil is a recent recipient of the Family Fellowship scholarship award, which awards $90,000 to 15 young adults formerly in foster care across the country.
After being referred to the scholarship by a community school program, Tenneil had an extensive interview process that included a Skype interview and trip to California with the scholarship board. She waited anxiously for a month to hear back. When she did, it was hard to believe she had earned such a prestigious honor.
“I was overwhelmed,” Tenneil said. “It took the ride home and for me to get an email saying ‘Welcome to the family’ for it to really sink in.”
While it is the culmination of years of hard work in school and activities like mock trial, National Honor Society and academic decathlon, in a way it’s only the beginning of a life full of promise. Things haven’t been easy for Tenneil; her father died when she was 7 years old. Her grandmother, who raised her after her father’s death, died when she was 13.
Tenniel and her twin brother, Taylor, entered foster care at 14 and later aged out. The twins didn’t have the support they knew they needed to thrive. That’s when Buckner Aftercare, a transitional program designed to help young adults with independent living, stepped in to fill the gap.
“When we got to Buckner they helped us find a place to live,” Tenniel said. “We were in a rough situation, but they gave us stability.”
Tenniel is looking ahead with a bit of sadness, but mostly excitement. She plans to study business management at Prairie View A&M University and will use the leftover scholarship money to fund her first year of law school. Living separately from her twin is the only thing bittersweet, but she knows he is only a phone call away.
“It’s going to be new because we’ve always been close,” Tenneil said. “It’s going to be a good experience and a hard one. When I’m not strong he steps up and I do the same.”
Tenneil offers messages of support and encouragement to Buckner and her community.
“I would like to say thank you to Buckner. Your hard work is truly making a difference,” she said. “To kids and foster kids like myself, I would say to believe in your dreams. The only way they won’t come true is if you don’t believe in them.”