“We’re all connected, all from similar backgrounds,” said Ni’tasha Denson, 18, of Granada Hills.
All graduates of the school of hard knocks.
Their stories are often heartbreaking, but inspirational, and that’s the key to why this event held for the last 27 years by the county of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services deserves our recognition.
We’re fast to condemn the department when a foster care child is lost or abused in the system, and rightfully so, but not so fast to give the vast majority of social workers and foster parents doing a tough job their due when the succeed.
“Without them, I don’t know where I would be today,” said 18-year-old Moises Lopez. “I know I wouldn’t have the chance to still be pursing my dream.”
He was a 9-year-old boy living in El Salvador, with the crazy idea of becoming an astronaut one day, when his mother got cancer.
“She didn’t go to the doctor because she was a very religious person,” he said. “She thought God would save her. When she finally agreed to see a doctor, it was too late.
“After that, my dad became an alcoholic and there was a lot of physical abuse. My older brother left to come to Los Angeles, and I came to find him when I was 13.
“I rode buses most of the way, then on top of a cargo train near the Texas border. I was caught by immigration, and my brother was contacted. They put me in foster care. The only English I knew was one word – hello.”
That was only five years ago. Last week, Moises graduated from Reseda High School with a 3.65 grade-point average. He was a member of the school’s Cyber Security Team charged with keeping malicious hackers out of the school’s different computer systems.