In her own words: Aviva High School graduate Andrea

Andrea graduated from Aviva Residential Treatment and Aviva High School in 2015. Here’s an excerpt of the speech she read at her Commencement ceremony:

My name is Andrea. I’d like to start off with how much Aviva has helped me and all of my peers, and all the girls who have come before me. Before Aviva, I was a train wreck of a person. I had no confidence; I had no structure in my life and no potential to do better anytime soon. I was failing all my classes, ditching most days, and was headed down a nasty path.

I was spiraling down a dark hole of depression and failure. I was in many foster homes and group homes before I had arrived to Aviva’s residential facility.

I had a very hard time adjusting to the stress from the restrictions they had put on my life. I hadn’t mentioned my hardships to anyone because I had a built up a wall to allow myself to appear stronger than I really was. I thought no one could see through my wall. I thought I was fooling everyone into thinking I had my stuff together.

Since I was having such a hard time, I stayed to myself more often than I used to, I developed anxiety, I was becoming distant to my family members and on top of all that, I didn’t have my friends anymore.

Shortly after arriving to Aviva, my mother passed away from lung cancer. She had spoken to me minutes before she had passed.

I was both relieved and saddened by her passing, relieve because she cause me to feel so much pain as a child, she had struggled with alcoholism and was emotionally, physically, and mentally abusive. So it wasn’t hard for me to accept her death.

I was saddened though because after all that, she was my mom, not my biological mother, but she raised me from birth. I was heartbroken because I would never be able to call someone “Mom” again.

After the biggest heartbreak of my life, I was happy to find myself surrounded by supportive and friendly staff and peers. Her passing made me realize I had to get my act together so she could be proud of me. No matter how bad things had gotten between us, she and I always got through it.

I was so glad to be at Aviva after that, I had a completely different outlook on life from there, everything was going so well for me, I was getting good grades. Going to school every single day, and was making new friends, amazing, fun, supportive friends. Most of all, I had a safe place to call my home.

Aviva was mostly stress-free for me. It helped me pull though those hard times and lead me to this very stage today. So thank you Aviva, thank you for your patience, support, time, and wisdom you have gifted me with. I am eternally grateful for this experience.

I would also like to thank my former foster parents, Trae and Kevin Booth, my best friend in the whole world Razel, and my amazing therapists, social workers and anyone else who has contributed to my success.

Learn more about Aviva’s 2015 Graduation Ceremony: Aviva High School Graduates Stand Proud and Strong

Read more speeches from graduates of Aviva High School’s Class of 2015: