Christina Parker, Member
“CYC Shadow Day changed my life,” says Christina Parker, 22. A student majoring in Arabic language, culture, and literature with a minor in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at Cal State San Bernardino, Christina was “so inspired by seeing people fighting for foster youth” that she decided to add a political science minor. “I began to think about social work and working in the capitol. I applied for internships and received one. I had been planning to go into national security, and attending Shadow Day opened my mind to a different avenue.”
Matched with Assemblymember Cheryl Brown, Christina accompanied her to a California Legislative Black Caucus meeting. “I saw they were trying to find ways to help minorities improve graduation rates, which really intrigued me. Assemblymember Brown is African American—for me to be able to see someone who looks like me in that place, fighting for change, let me know that I could also be in that type of position. I saw that I could do something that affects people on a larger level like that.”
Shadow Day inspired Christina to become more involved in CYC, and soon she was elected chair of her chapter. “I’ve increased our numbers,” she says, “which was our goal. Before, I wasn’t really so into leadership or anything to do with the foster care system. After I joined CYC, I became aware of the statistics and the problems in the system. Now I have the passion to change it.”
CYC creates a lot of “firsts” for our members. Shadow Day brought Christina to the capitol for the first time in her life, and after returning to her chapter, she took on her first leadership position.
Our 2017 Summer Leadership and Policy Conference, which took place July 21-24 at Sonoma State University, provided many pivotal firsts for foster youth from around the state. CYC Members trained their peers in leadership skills, public speaking, and community organizing. Participants identified the most pressing issues facing foster youth in California and developed solutions to address them.
“Being in CYC is advocating for your brothers and sisters and cousins and people coming behind you who are going to enter the foster care system,” says Christina. “It’s about making it easier and better for them.”