3 years in Utah’s Foster Care System
19 years old
Katelyn was born in Phoenix, Arizona. She has spent most of her life going back and forth between Las Vegas, Nevada, and Cedar City, Utah. Katelyn entered care in 2017 at 16 because of her Mother’s continued fight with addiction and neglect. Over the next three years, she spent time in Iron County Youth Center, moved around 5 different foster placements and independent living programs before her case was closed.
Despite moving around multiple placements while still in high school and foster care, Katelyn made up almost a full year of missing school credits, held a consistent job, earned the Sterling Scholar award for World Languages, attended Southwest Technical College where she obtained her CNA certification and graduated high school a semester early. Katelyn finished her freshman year at Southern Utah University and is putting her CNA certification to good use working at Brookdale Senior Living & Turn Community Services. Katelyn’s goal is to graduate college and obtain her nursing degree.
Katelyn has taken part in sharing her foster care lived experience in several youth panels in St. George, Cedar City, and Salt Lake. While being brave enough to put her story out there, Katelyn recognizes each opportunity is a chance to speak to others in similar situations as her and tell them “You are going to be okay, never let the system or anything break you. You are in charge, you have a voice that you’ll find while you’re in these tough times, never be afraid to use it!”
Katelyn continues to find opportunities to share her story and to help others. She has attended the Chalk art festival for the past two years where she helped to set up and use chalk to illustrate aspects of foster care. She has been chosen to represent Utah youth at the 2019 Youth Thrive Convening and has participated in the Promising Youth Conference in Sandy, UT. One of her favorite quotes is “Don’t let your pride get in the way of what you deserve.” Her grandmother told her that during a difficult time in her life and it has stuck with her.
Katelyn’s drive and passion for others are one of the primary reasons she is grateful to be a leader for foster youth as a 2020 FosterClub All-Star. Katelyn spent most of her life trying to protect her younger sisters. She feels like this has given her the life experience that can benefit her as an All-Star leader. She experienced many obstacles while in care and wants to influence changes within the child welfare system. Katelyn has learned many life skills, like how hard work can impact your future and that you need to find a support system that works for you. For Katelyn, that often means finding the most delicious fruits, reaching out to her former foster parents, friends, and others who help her find happiness. Katelyn is interested in learning new skills. One day, she hopes to play the piano. For now, though, she is focusing on helping others overcome the hardships in their lives, being a student and a sorority sister.