From the System to Success: Former foster youth shares her story

When Marie Ary was 3 months old, she was placed into the foster care system. Her single mother was battling a drug addiction. Her aunt was already caring for Marie's older sister when she was born and couldn't raise another child, so a family friend named Lois Collins become her foster parent in 1989. 
Marie grew up calling Lois "mom." Speaking about her experience, she says it was the best thing to happen to her.

 "It was a responsible choice to make, and I'm who I am because of it," Marie says. "I went through the things that every kid goes through growing up, but my mom really grounded me and taught me the important things in life. She was very serious about academics and made sure that I worked hard in school. I became passionate about learning because of her." 

Marie and her foster mom were a close family. They ate dinner together in their home in Alameda County and talked. They said "I love you" to each other. Lois made sure to take Marie to her aunt's house so she could also stay close with her sister.

"My mom stressed the importance of maintaining a relationship with my sister," Marie says. "I saw my aunt and my sister every weekend. I was fortunate in so many ways to have my mom."

When Marie was 13, she and Lois moved to Elk Grove. Marie completed high school and went on to graduate in 2011 from Johnson C. Smith University on North Carolina with a degree in computer science and information systems. She is currently working for AmeriCorps as a youth mentor and will be helping youth learn independent living skills and succeed at school.

Though she says there are several people who have contributed to her achievements, Marie's foster mom and the foster care system gave her the foundation she needed to succeed in life.

"I am so thankful I had my mom and permanency with her," Marie says. "Because of the way she raised me, I have had many opportunities in life. She taught me how to carry myself and how to talk to people. She's always wanted the best for me and wants to see me continue to succeed."

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