Alyssa Olson is a shining example of a passionate student, scholar, leader, and prominent member of the student body at North Central Missouri College. She consistently demonstrates and shares her love of learning with fellow students, faculty, and staff. As a foster child, she relied greatly on her teachers and coaches for mentoring and encouragement to participate and succeed in academics and athletics. She now wishes to pay it forward by becoming a math teacher and coach using her role to support teens in need or with special life circumstances. Alyssa also wants to use her unique perspective with communities in the region to help them better support older youth in foster care. Further, she desires to influence other former foster children to serve as mentors to those in need of encouragement. Dr. Lenny Klaver President North Central Missouri College
As an older youth in foster care and a first generation college student, I have come to know the challenges that my peers face in reaching their educational and personal goals when they also must overcome the grief and loss that occurs when separated from one’s biological family. Navigating life as a teen, high school student, and now college student brings difficulties but perhaps no more so than for a youth who is in foster care. I am grateful for those individuals in my community and extended family who treated me in ways that helped reduce the painful stigma of being a foster child. Although I have found well-intentioned people and organizations in my community, increased focus should be made in delivering services in a way that reduces the shame that can come with living in poverty and crisis. I would like to use my experiences and leadership skills to change the perception of foster children in the community. Unfortunately, many are stereotyped as having behavioral problems and being unable to end generational cycles of poor choices. I look forward to working with professionals to improve experiences intended to help children in ways that reduce stigma and increase opportunities.