Scholar Spotlight – Shanice

Childhood can be tough, but Shanice had an unusually hard childhood. Growing up, Shanice lived through abuse and neglect by her birth parents. Her father was often jailed, leaving her birth mother and sisters in extreme poverty and homelessness. The lack of safe living environment and good health care led to her sister’s permanent developmental disabilities caused by lead paint poisoning. She lost another sister to a congenital heart defect that could have been treated at birth if it had been properly diagnosed. While her birth mother (who was epileptic but unable to afford medication) was pregnant with Shanice, she had several prolonged seizures, which required hospitalization. Her preexisting deep depression only worsened and led to her death when Shanice was only a toddler. A year later, Shanice and her sister were removed from their birth father’s care due to abuse and neglect and for several years, they bounced from foster family to foster family – all of whom varied cultures, values and rules.

“Education, a major part of (my new parent’s) value system quickly became one of mine too.”

Finally, at the age of 8, Shanice and her sister were adopted by her fourth foster family. She found herself living in a safe, quiet, loving environment with parents who had college degrees and took her to concerts and plays and encouraged her to read and watch the news. It took her a while to grow accustomed to this change in environment, but over time, Shanice adapted to her new family’s values like education, social justice and non-violence as a means for solving problems.

“I still struggle with mental health issues as well as learning disabilities that impact my performance on timed or standardized tests. I have learned, though, to work hard, persevere, and march steadily forward even if that means taking a more difficult path.”

Her formative years caused many academic delays, but in addition to feeling like an outsider because of academic delays, Shanice is also biracial. Her adoptive family is white and she lives in a 97% white community. She is extremely grateful to her adoptive parents and their support, but feeling like an outsider on the inside while looking different from everyone around her definitely made it harder. Understandably, learning new coping skills was difficult and it took 3 hospitalizations to help her grasp the stability she has fought so hard to obtain.

“While I overcame many of my academic delays, I still suffer with ADHD, PTSD, Anxiety, Depression and Attachment Disorder. Additionally, racism affects my mental health. I’ve spent most of my life dealing with micro-aggressions and trying to educate people that do not know the best way to treat someone who is different.”

Shanice will be attending New England College after graduating from Manchester Community College with an Associates Degree in Teacher Education where she earned a 3.7 GPA and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She was a campus leader on the Student Senate and served as President of the Community Action Board and an Admissions Office Ambassador and Peer Mentor. She works with Americorps Program in assisting 3rd graders in under resourced classrooms and be working toward a degree in Psychology where she hopes to become a Guidance Counselor while working toward a Masters Degree. “While my life path may not have been typical, my dedication to this vision is strong.”

“My struggles do not define me. Instead, I embrace them and incorporate them into my being, making me a stronger, more resilient person.”

The JC Runyon Foundation is humbled to be a small part of this amazing young woman’s journey. We know without a doubt that she is going to change the world, one child at a time. Shanice is the very definition of “LivingTheNextChapter.

Are you ready to #LiveYourNextChapter? Apply today – now accepting applications for 2020-21! Click Here to apply!

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Scholar Spotlight – Maya

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