My caseworker keeps telling me, “Your life is in your hands now. It’s up to you to make it better.”

Born in Ghana, West Africa in 1987, Rebecca immigrated to the United States in 2000. A difficult home life led to the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) intervening in 2004, and Rebecca spent the next year splitting time among four different group and foster homes. When she first entered Lad Lake’s Supervised Independent Living program in 2005, she received the support she needed to successfully move into her own apartment. And after she aged out and entered the Connections Services she was able to get continued support and has been able to be independent and continues to live in the same apartment today.

“Whenever I need help, all I have to do is ask and Lad Lake is there for me,” says Rebecca. “But my caseworker keeps telling me, ‘Your life is in your hands now. It’s up to you to make it better’.” And so, that’s just what Rebecca has done.

Sometimes working two jobs while attending high school at the same time, Rebecca graduated in 2005 and is now attending college at MATC, pursuing a degree in dental hygiene. But her vision for the future doesn’t end there.

“I have plans that lead to plans that lead to plans,” Rebecca says. “I want to own my own business someday. So I’m going to be a dental hygienist to get financial stability, then go back to school to take some business courses, and just work my way on up.”

Busy as Rebecca is, she still finds time to participate in Lad Lake’s Youth Advisory Council. In fact, she was so moved by one girl’s story, she volunteered to act as a sort of mentor. “It really touched my heart,” says Rebecca. “She’s getting help from Lad Lake, but I’m older and more mature, and I just told her caseworker that I’d be willing to be some sort of big sister to her.”

And in so doing, not only has Rebecca followed the advice of her caseworker, she’s paying it forward – and making someone else’s life better in the process.

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