This is my story, but the rest of my life is what I make it.

Arreana Jackson

At the age of eight, Arreana was placed in foster care after experiencing neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, Arreana was not placed in the stable home that she so needed. She bounced from foster home to foster home and was assaulted in one. Eventually, she moved into Barat House, an all-girls home for youth in the foster care system. Fortunately, someone at Barat House saw Arreana’s potential. “A mentor saw my leadership qualities and told me about the leadership training at AFG,” she remembers. At leadership training, Arreana learned about becoming a Peer Educator at Alternatives For Girls, a Detroit-based nonprofit serving homeless and at-risk girls and young women. As a Peer Educator, she would be able to reach out to other youth who had had similar experiences. Arreana decided to take the next step and applied to become a Peer Educator. She was quickly accepted. Being a Peer Educator has allowed Arreana’s inner light to shine through. “It’s opened me up to a lot of new things,” she says with a smile. “It’s taught me to open up more, and to be an all-around positive person.” The experience has also benefitted her academically. “Before being a Peer Educator, I was always ‘academic,’ but my grades didn’t show it,” she remembers. She was always a 1.0 or 2.0 grade-point-average student, but this year she is up to a 3.3 GPA! Not only has being a Peer Educator benefitted Arreana personally, it has also allowed her to help others. “My favorite part is talking to girls who’ve been in my situation and giving them health advice. Telling them that there is a better way,” she explains. Arreana is now a senior in high school and is in the process of applying to colleges. She has now been made Team Leader of her Peer Educator team. At her school, she is involved in the mentoring program, is president of leadership training, and on yearbook committee. She is also a part of the Michigan Blue Babies Organization, a program that gives youth in the foster care system the opportunity to give back to their communities. She plans to study criminal justice and social work so that she can give back to others who are in similar situations to hers.

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