The Class of 2018 Park West Foundation scholarship recipients: Breanna Morgan, Kyonna Woods, and Penny Richards.

As a foster care youth, Kyonna Woods faced trying times in school. Without stable homes or families, many foster youth struggle to keep up with their high school peers.

But Kyonna, along with 86 of her fellow Class of 2018 students, didn’t let those difficulties stop them. Kyonna defined this resolve in an essay she wrote:

“Oftentimes people can find themselves in deep enigmatic pain. We ask ourselves what we should do when facing such ineffable pain…I eventually chose to let the pain make me instead of break me. The endurance of pain allowed me to overcome and it developed me into the person that I am today.”

The Park West Foundation held a graduation ceremony for Southeast Michigan foster care students to honor the Class of 2018. The celebration was held July 31 at the Skyline Club in Southfield, Michigan in partnership with the Wayne County Health and Human Services department.

Park West Foundation Co-Founder Albert Scaglione recognizes one of the Classof 2018 students.

Studies show that that show that foster youth are three times more likely to drop out of high school due to the difficulties they face. This is just one reason why the Park West Foundation has supported foster youth in Michigan with education, clothing, shelter, and food assistance for the past 12 years.

The celebration recognized the students’ achievements along with awards and scholarships they received. This year’s recipients of the Park West Foundation scholarship were Kyonna, Penny Richards, and Breanna Morgan. They will attend Jackson College, Wayne State University and Wayne County Community College, respectively.

“Park West Foundation’s hands-on approach in the tri-county area has supported hundreds of students in care,” says Saba Gebrai, Park West Foundation Program Director. “Celebrating students’ achievements and graduations has been another priority.”

Qween Magazine founder Veunita Garrison, a Western Michigan University Seita Scholar, earned an award for her extraordinary community service. Her fellow graduate, Grant Williams, received recognition for being most improved Class of 2018 student. The celebration also honored graduates enlisted in the military.

From left: Park West Foundation Co-Founder Albert Scaglione, Maria, Park West Foundation Co-Founder Mitsie Scaglione, Park West Foundation Program Director Saba Gebrai, and Park West Foundation Director Diane Pandolfi.

Special guests attending the graduation ceremony included Park West Gallery Founder and CEO Albert Scaglione, Park West Foundation Director Diane Pandolfi, Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Colombo, and Wayne County Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Director Lynette Wright.

“I was delighted to attend this year’s celebration of the 2018 graduating class sharing in their pride for such an amazing accomplishment,” says Pandolfi. “The Foundation will continue to support these young people as they move forward on their journey to achieve a productive and fulfilling future. Way to go graduates!”