(NEW YORK) – Once upon a time someone who said she felt she had no options, according to her high school, a teen was admitted to more than 50 colleges for the upcoming academic year.
Fate Jackson, 18, ran away from an abusive home in Philadelphia when she was just 13, she said.
“It was really out of control,” she said of her circumstances at the time.
Jackson told Good Morning America that she took it upon herself to leave the house. She said she experienced homelessness, surfed the couch, and hung out in nursing homes and group homes.
“It was very rocky in the beginning,” she said.
Jackson said she also needs to learn how to manage her health early on. She says she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 3 years old, but the lack of stability at home meant she had to take on responsibilities that would otherwise be reserved for a parent or guardian.
“There wasn’t a consistent person responsible for my diabetes except me because one day I could be here, the next day I could be there,” Jackson said. “The only constant person is always me, so I thought it was my responsibility – my duty – to be in control of my diabetes.”
Jackson said she often attended her diabetic appointments alone, but learned how to manage the disease with the help of her doctors and workers at the homeless shelter.
Her health and age made it difficult to find foster families willing to take her in, she said.
“I’ve had a hard time finding a home because a lot of people don’t want someone to be Type 1 diabetic,” she said. “But then I was a teenager too. It wasn’t a good thing. “
According to reports from the US Department of Health, younger children are more likely to be adopted than older children. In the 2019 fiscal year, the average age of adoption was 8.7 years, according to HHS.
A determination to beat the odds
Although finding a willing foster family was difficult, according to Jackson, she now has a choice of colleges to choose from.
And the chances of even going to college speak against Jackson’s favor. The National Foster Youth Institute found that only about 50% of foster children graduate from high school and less than 3% graduate from 4-year college.
“I didn’t want to let anything get the best out of me,” she said of her motivation. “I always wanted to go to college. I always knew that I wanted to do something with my life. No matter what happened, I had to keep an eye on the price. “
Jackson applied to numerous colleges through various college fairs and online applications. As long as she got into one, she said, she would be fine.
But when the decisions came in, they were all acceptances. In total, Jackson was admitted to 56 colleges at the time of this report, including the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Howard University.
“I was very shocked. I said, “Am I dreaming?” Wake me out of here, ”she said.
Her first choice was Spelman College in Atlanta, which she recently signed up to.
“[Spelman] has an illustrious history of women in leadership positions – committed, open-minded and educated women – and I think I am, ”said Jackson, explaining why she chose the historically black women’s college.
She said her plans are to double down political science majoring in a pre-legal route as well as communication and media studies.
“There are always men in these management positions. When I see Kamala Harris, who is not only the Vice President of the United States, but also a black woman, I think this is beyond an accomplishment, “said Jackson. “That gives me a lot of confidence to know that okay, if she can, why can’t I?”
While at Spelman, Jackson said she also plans to devote herself to acting, as the arts are one of her main coping mechanisms. She said she “loves to sing and play” and wants to have her own radio show before becoming President of the United States. Jackson interned with Philadelphia’s City Council.
“There have been so many times that people have told me that I am unable to do anything, whether it is because I was homeless and in care or because I was a Type 1 diabetic am “so Jackson said. “But I knew that I would be able to do anything I set out to do, no matter what others said.”
Her advice to others: “I have learned in life that you cannot allow other people to make decisions for you, no matter what you set out to do. You are the author of your own story, you are creating your own narrative. If you want to do something, you can let it happen. “
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