By all accounts, Kimberly Snodgrass, an honors social science undergraduate student, should not be where she is today
"I can remember being left to care for my younger brother and sister for days at a time while we were living in a tent in the mountains," Kim says. "I wasn't even ten years old at the time." As for school, forget about it she says. "I never attended school for more than two weeks at a time because we were always on the run."
That all changed when, at eleven years old, Kim and her two younger siblings, through the help of Orangewood Children's Home in Orange, California, were placed with the Snodgrass family. They joined the couple's four children and two other foster children, all of whom the couple adopted five years later.
With extra help from her teachers and adopted parents, Kim was able to catch up academically to her peers, enough so that she was able to graduate high school with honors. She also became an active member in the band, all while working to pay for her own car, and other "necessities" of a typical teenager.
As a UCI undergraduate, she wrote and illustrated a children's book, "I Am a Foster Child, I Have Feelings, Too," geared toward young children who have been removed from their parents and placed in foster care.
"I wanted to find a way to help these kids to better understand and accept the wide range of emotions and feelings they can expect to have," she says. For the older reader, Kim has also written and published an autobiography of her life entitled "This is My Life."
Somewhere between her busy writing schedule and working as a teaching assistant at UCI and the Early Childhood Learning Center while also interning with Orangewood's CEO, Kim found time to get involved with Global Connect and the Community Service Leadership Program (CSLP), two School of Social Sciences programs she says allowed her to give back to the community while preparing her for a career devoted to public service. She also participated in the Social Sciences' five week research intensive Summer Academic Enrichment Program. Last summer, she attended Princeton University's competitive Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute program where she pursued in-depth research on a topic very close to her heart - the national foster care system.
"Kim is the type of person who takes full advantage of the opportunities that are presented to her," says Caesar Sereseres, associate dean of undergraduate studies in the School of Social Sciences and a very active leader and instructor with SAEP. "She is creative in terms of herself and her ambitions and has a very positive attitude and outlook on life."
In the fall, she will begin graduate school at Harvard's School of Education where she plans to continue her research on foster youth policy in hopes of impacting future foster children and eventually become a university professor.
"I stand today full of opportunities because people believed in me. I would have never made it this far without a strong team of supporters such as my family, reliable friends, boyfriend, caring professors, Orangewood Guardian Scholars, and academic resources available to me. While we cannot change our past, we can push for our future," says Kim whose future indeed seems bright.