From Foster Care To Full Ride Scholarship In Harvard Kelisha Williams Is Proof Of Determination

Foster teen Kelisha Williams received full ride scholarship to Harvard

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” – Shirley Chisholm.

Sometimes life throws really really hard blows at us, how we react, is the definition of who we automatically become.

Kelisha Williams landed in foster care since age 16, in the last two years she’s moved five times, but in a move which started out as a joke, applying to the prestigious Harvard amongst other institutions, many thanks to her super impressive ACT score – a 32 ACT score, bringing in access to top institutions in the world, her story is about to change and yes, this teenager is all for sharing a message of hope to other foster kids – Things do work out eventually – with the right attitude and determination.

Recalling how it all started, Kelishia in a chat with WCPO said:

“When I applied to Harvard, I applied to Harvard as a joke,” I didn’t think I was going to get in…To any of the foster kids that are watching, everyone always says it’s going to get better. I never used to believe that when I was going through it and stuff like that. Eventually, it does.”

Thanks to the weapon of education, Kelisha Williams is well on her way to rewriting her script and is also ever so grateful for her Specialized Alternatives for Families & Youth (SAFY) foster mom Maria Finkenstead who has given her stability as well as provided additional encouragement and support throughout the admissions process and can’t contain her pride for her daughter:

“Maria is definitely easy-going,” Williams said. “Probably the most easy-going parent I’ve had.”

Williams submitted applications to over 20 colleges but the University of Southern California, her dream school, one of the world’s leading private research institutions was top on her list. Ivy League schools, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard also received her applications.

During her Harvard Admissions interview, Williams had a chance to speak to Michelle Obama and actor Lin Manuel Miranda and used the opportunity to ask the former First Lady how she has been able to keep going in the face of obstacles.

Reflecting on Obama’s words of wisdom, Williams shared with WCPO. “You just have to keep going. No one’s ever fully always on your side.”

Williams after logging into her account to view her admission status to Harvard was overjoyed with the news of a full-ride scholarship to Harvard and there’s no stopping her!

She’s got her eyes set on becoming President of the Institution.
Williams plans to study political science and psychology at Harvard this fall. She wants to inspire other foster children to keep pushing through the obstacles and pursuing their vision of success.

“Nobody was going to hand me a ticket out of here,” says Williams. “I had to take it for myself.”

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