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Ohio Teen Who Was In Foster Care Is Headed To Harvard University On A Full Scholarship

Ohio Teen Who Was In Foster Care Is Headed To Harvard University On A Full Scholarship

Storms don’t always last!

An Ohio teen who was in foster care is headed to Harvard University on a full scholarship, WCPO reports. 

Kelisha Williams was 16-years-old when she first entered the foster care system. The last few years have been rough for her. She’s moved five times in less than two years. Williams said she always dreamed of becoming president, but that dream seemed further away as the years went on. She finally found a safe haven in her Specialized Alternatives for Families & Youth (SAFY) foster mom Maria Finkenstead.

“Maria is definitely easy-going. Probably the most easy-going parent I’ve had,” Williams said. 

The teen works at Walmart in between school and preparing for college. One day, while she was at work, Finkenstead inquired about how her college admissions were coming along. 

“I said, ‘Hey did you take the ACT?’ She said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘Well, what did you get?’ And she’s like, a 32, and I was like, ‘You can go anywhere,’” Finkenstead recalled. 

Williams set her sights on an Ivy League school or her dream school, the University of Southern California, applying to 24 schools in total, including Harvard, which she said she applied to as a joke. 

“I didn’t think I was going to get in,” said Williams. 

She then was required to complete her admissions interview for Harvard, speaking with Lin Manuel Miranda and Forever First Lady Michelle Obama as a part of the process. Williams asked Obama how she kept going with so many people stacked against her, Obama replied, “ just have to keep going. No one’s ever fully always on your side.” That was all the motivation Williams needed. When it was time to check her account and see if she got accepted, she couldn’t believe her eyes as the confetti burst across the screen with the words “Congratulations.”

“I started screaming at first, and then I started crying and was pretty hysterical after that,” Williams said. 

“I went nuts. I gave her her first hug. It was our first hug...She’s done all the work. All the determination has come from her. I take no credit in any of her accomplishments,” Finkenstead added. 

The teen is now preparing to head to Harvard in the fall on a full-ride scholarship, studying political science and psychology. She hopes that her story provides hope for other foster children dealing with the obstacles she encountered. 

“To any of the foster kids that are watching, everyone always says it’s going to get better. I never used to believe that when I was going through it and stuff like that. Eventually, it does,” said Williams. 

Congratulations Kelisha!! We are all so happy for you!

Photo Courtesy of WCPO