Spotlight: One in 36,000

Rodney Williams

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La'Shay Clifton is a 19-year-old sophomore, at the moment undecided major hoping she can be a motivational speaker and be able to advocate for foster children. Photo Credit: Rodney Williams / Contribution Reporter

La'Shay Clifton is a 19-year-old sophomore, at the moment undecided major hoping she can be a motivational speaker and be able to advocate for foster children. Photo Credit: Rodney Williams / Contribution Reporter

La’Shay Clifton has experienced her fair share of triumphs and setbacks but she hopes to one day become a motivational speaker and be able to inspire people to continue to reach for their goals.

Clifton is a 19-year-old sophomore who came to CSUN from Oakland Military Institute High School in Oakland, California where she was the student body president for three years. When she arrived at CSUN she was a declared music major, but came to the conclusion that there was a problem.

Shortly after her first semester ended, Clifton, who is the current president of the CSUN Gospel Choir, decided to drop out of the music program and continue as an undecided major for the time being so she could decide what her calling was in life. Now, almost a year later, she is leaning towards communications studies.

“Music is one of my passions,” she said with a huge smile. “I love to use my talent for God, however I quickly realized that this was something I didn’t want to get a degree in. My first semester as a freshman was a little rough.”

“I would really like to become a motivational speaker and an advocate for foster children,” Clifton said, who grew up with foster parents herself. “I want to encourage all foster youth to pursue their dreams and goals.”

According to the Honoring Emancipated Youth Foundation, which is a San Francisco based organization that helps foster children transition to adulthood, only about 48 percent of foster children finish high school. And of that, only about 1 percent will graduate from college.

“Just because you are a foster child doesn’t mean that your life just stops when you hit 18. You still have to move on,” is the message Clifton wants to send. “Go after higher education. I had the opportunity to be around people who encouraged me to pursue my goals despite my situation and I just want to be that person that foster youth can admire.”

She plans to graduate in 2012 and begin her career, but in the meantime she is simply “living her life.”

The CSUN Gospel Choir meets on Wednesday nights from 7 – 9 p.m. on the second floor of the Fitness Center.

If you would like to find out how you can also become an advocate and make a difference in a foster child’s life visit the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Web site www.nationalcasa.org for more information.