By Jenny Pope
“I was 17 when I came here,” Janette began, sitting at a table in the library at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
“I had that newfound independence thing.”
Like most freshman students, Janette tested her limits. She started working at a bar, she said, and spent “more time having fun than going to class.”
But that’s all in the past. Today she sits confidently, tossing her long blonde hair over her shoulder and looking her future in the eye. She will graduate in August with honors.
“I’ve completely turned my life around,” she said. The psychology major plans to begin working on her master’s degree at the University of Houston this fall studying clinical psychology.
Janette and her twin sister Jennifer have lived in the state’s care since they were 13. So when Janette graduated high school, she was glad to be free from constant supervision.
Then she received a phone call from David March, TRAIL (Transitioning to Responsible Adult Independent Living) caseworker in Lufkin.
“At first I thought, oh this is just another one,” she said, recounting the numerous caseworkers assigned to her life. “Then I got to know him. He’s almost like a parent. He’s easy to talk to, always involved in what’s going on. He really gets to know you and understand you.”
March helped Janette and her sister with resources and money for books. He also helped connect them with state vouchers to pay for living expenses during school.
“It is so helpful,” Janette said. “Some months, I’m like, I don’t know how I’d pay my rent without it!”
But more than the money, March helped Janette get her life on track.
“[TRAIL] helps people who have been through a lot of stuff,” she said. “I might have wound up as another statistic – single and pregnant. Nearly 80 percent of children abused growing up end up in prison.
“This program helped me understand that you can overcome that.”
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