Samantha, Freshman


“I grew up bouncing from house to house because I was a foster kid, and I spent a lot of time in and out of foster homes with my three sisters. I’m adopted now, so I went from Rodriguez to Norton. I was adopted by what is technically my half-older sister from my bio dad’s side. His first child adopted me and my sisters as her own. I moved here from California. I grew up in a rough area, and moving to a very calm suburb is definitely a stretch. I wasn’t used to the quiet. The culture is completely different. So, I think that was really hard for me to navigate, especially being so young, because I moved here in 6th grade. I grew up in what would be considered the West Side. So, when people say ‘straight out of Compton’ or ‘straight out of Englewood,’ I was born there. You grow up really fast out there because you have to. If you don’t keep up, then well, you get left behind. So you have to learn how to keep moving and keep going, even when obstacles occur. Where I came from, there was a big sort of community feeling. I guess there were cliques, but everyone helped out everyone, because that’s what we all did to survive. We had to depend on each other. I know people who switch housing for child support. Someone from another family, or a single woman, could move in, and in exchange for housing, she would watch their kids. That was very common. People would raise cabbage, chickens, whatever, and they would swap that at the market. I think coming in as an outsider was very different because I’m so used to a certain kind of community. There’s community here, but it’s nowhere near the same. It’s very tight-knit, but also very cliquey. Everybody already has their own group. I think that’s established very young, especially in a more suburban area like this. So coming in late to the game, it was hard to navigate where I fit into the social knitting of this environment. I think I’ve found very good people that I connect with, and I’m very grateful for that. I met a lot of people through musical theater, and classes in general, like art classes. Where I came from we didn’t have art classes, so coming here and getting to experience that also really helped.”