Fostering Education Across Campus

“I feel like I have a voice about my experiences, and I want to use it.”  Being a child raised in foster care Isaac Adhola faced many challenges.   Originally, from the Columbus area, Adhola came to Richland County within the foster care system and enrolled in school at Ontario High School.

“I moved in with a pastor and his wife,” he says.  “I was blessed enough to be in only one home during my time in foster care.”  However, he understands that his situation was not the same as everyone else’s.  “A lot of times a child moves from one house to another and that breaks the certainty of love.  Expecting to be heartbroken emotionally was the main psychological thing to happen.   Foster children can easily feel like no one really cares about them.”

Adhola says he relied on his faith to get him through the tough times.   It is his faith and believing he could have a better future that leads him to North Central State College.  “I met a former employee of the college while attending a local church.  She told me I should definitely go to college and that she would help me out,” he explains.  “After that, we met and discussed the courses I would take and soon after I was enrolled in classes.”  Adhola is currently studying graphic design.  While attending classes, Adhola was asked to speak about his experience as a foster child.

North Central State College is one of 19 colleges and universities across Ohio, working to improve the success rate of youth as they transition from the foster care system, into higher education.  The Short-Term Certificate Foster Youth Grant equally divides $385,000 in short-term certificate funding to help students from foster care earn credentials and certificates that will help them achieve their academic and career goals.

Adhola recently testified before the Children Services Transformation Advisory Council as they collected evidence on reforming Ohio’s foster care system.  He shared his experience in the foster care world.  “My goal is to discuss the mental aspects and its effect on kids.  I realized the panel is viewing foster care from the outside and most likely get their view of the system from the news,” Adhola says.  “In order to help somebody, you need to know what’s going on.  My whole goal was to get the group to understand why there are barriers and to help them see what they can do better and make it easier for students to succeed outside of the foster care system.”

He says the coaching and support he has received from NC State has been invaluable in helping navigate both college and life since his emancipation from the system.

In 2016, Ohio raised the foster care age from 18 to 21 so that young adults can opt to stay longer in the system.  However, after Adhola graduated high school, he left the foster care system.  According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, by age 21, just 43 percent of former foster youths in Ohio had a school diploma or equivalent.  He wants to help change that statistic.

“I believe this is my time to open others’ eyes to see that we are equal and to not forget about the children who many have already forgotten,” he says.

Adhola is looking forward to his educational journey. He plans to obtain his bachelor’s degree after graduating from North Central State College.   He also wants to continue to advocate for foster children across Ohio.  “I’m going to continue to this fight.  When I see pain, I just cannot be silenced.  That’s why I feel like I will continue to be an advocate for this issue.”