When Nikki Fayette first heard that she was moving to a group home in Elk she really didn’t want to go.
The 17-year-old has been in foster care since she was 8, and she’s lived in Walla Walla, Dayton, Spokane and several other places.
“You just kind of bounce around,” Fayette said. “I wasn’t a very nice person when I came out here. And I hate moving schools.”
After missing half of her sophomore year, she enrolled as a junior in Riverside School District’s Alternative Program – and to her surprise she liked it. Now she’s graduating from high school and plans to attend Spokane Falls Community College in the fall.
“I was so behind when I got here,” Fayette said. “I was never academically involved. School was more of a social thing to me.”
Things are different now. Fayette just visited SFCC’s campus, and she lights up when she talks about going to college.
“I want to move on,” she said, “I don’t want to be homeless living in the streets like so many other foster kids I know.”
She volunteers at the hospital in Newport, helping with promotions and fundraising.
“Maybe I’ll get a business degree,” she said.
Her older brother is already at Eastern Washington University and she wants to follow him after a couple of years at SFCC. Her younger sister was adopted and she stays in touch with her siblings.
“My dad died and my mom just sort of was depressed,” Fayette said. “It was neglect that got me into foster care.” She said she can’t be “too down” on herself about growing up in foster care because many of the other foster children she’s met had more difficult stories than she does. “Compared to them, I have it super easy,” Fayette said.
Being on her own at 17 poses some challenges. Instead of worrying about prom, she’s worrying about finding an apartment she can afford and passing all the tests so she can start at SFCC.
“Being on campus at SFCC was just so uplifting,” Fayette said. “I feel so accomplished going to college.”