“I thought my problems were too much for any program.”

Kentrice at her graduation. She received an A.A. in Business from Seattle Central College.

My name is Kentrice and I came from Arkansas for high school. I did not want to come here. I was afraid of change. I thought I had all my friends I needed back home, even family. I had big eyes on the city once me and my family arrived in Seattle. The city is HUGE! A small country gal could not fathom the thought of having a successful life here. Where do I start?

Things don’t always work out in life how we expect. My parents couldn’t work out their differences and I was stuck in the middle. Do I go back home, where there are no opportunities or do I stay here and make my life better? It wasn’t an easy choice leaving my mother back home, but I know there’s a purpose for me here to make something of myself. Look at me, making life decisions that will change my life forever. Well, at least I thought it was the right decision. 

Later that year, my father lost his home and could no longer afford to take care of me. Once again, I had to stop my teenage life to make another huge decision. Either I can go to foster care, or go home. I went back to Arkansas for my junior year of high school and immediately discovered there was no home for me anywhere. My heart was broken. I am tired. What do you do when life throws a curveball? You’re supposed to keep your eye on the ball, but how? 

I was homeless with my mother until I was 17, sleeping from pillow to post, trying to make it to school on time. I didn’t make it to school several times and people took notice. Once again, I’m in this cycle of survival and foster care. Child Protective Services bought me a one way ticket back to Seattle live with my dad. 

I was really upset once I got back to WA to only find out that my father was not responsible enough to take care of me. During this time, I felt that homelessness was a trend in my life. I could not settle down and focus on school because I did not know where I would sleep that night, let alone eat a meal. My senior year at Rainier Beach High School is when my life was filled with purpose and hope for my future. I met Jeff Corey from SEA through my school’s program. 

I was relieved that there is hope for underprivileged students. I first met with Jeff in spring 2012. I was scared that if I told him I really needed help and support, that he couldn’t really help. I was afraid to tell my truth because I felt like my problems were too much and no program would stand by my side. I have the most amazing mentor in Jeff that any youth could ask for. Jeff opened his arms to me, Kentrice, and built a bond that will last forever. Not only did Jeff welcome me to SEA, he provided me with resources and networks to continue school and find housing. 

I stopped school after high school to try and find a stable place to live. Jeff connected me with housing, and from there I branched out to different resources. He helped me find a room in the University District, somewhere I could afford and work. I stopped talking to Jeff for a while I focused on stabilizing my life. One day, I decided I really needed to go back to school to change my life. Jeff still had the same phone number! I was so shocked and relieved to know that SEA will still stay with me. I was so happy because Jeff was still the same and he still welcomed me back in. He helped me progress in college. 

He helped me with tutoring, mentoring, financial aid, everything! There were so many struggles at Seattle Central. As I was attending, I challenged myself to pursue a degree that not only was beneficial, but was challenging. I worked for a business degree. Jeff stuck with me throughout my three years at Seattle Central, even when I failed math class. He helped me get a tutor and study, and I passed the class with a 3.5! 

Jeff is my number one supporter through the good and the bad, and he’s incredibly relatable. With his help, I finally got to walk at graduation with my Associate’s in Business! I want to continue serving on SEA’s Student Advisory Board. I’d like to attend UW Foster School of Business.


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