Ashley is actively pursuing higher education and has goals for a fulfilling career in the community. She is a great example of why we feel so hopeful about our future, she is making her own pathway to success.
All About Me
Hello! My name is Ashley Avalos I am 20 years old and a 3rd year college student majoring in Environmental Science. I was born and raised in East LA and the 2nd oldest of 5. For the first 6 years of my life, I was placed in foster care but was lucky enough to have my grandparents be granted guardianship of me and my siblings. From then on we lived in a housing project community. Growing up in the projects wasn’t easy. I was surrounded by gang activity and have seen things that no child should ever see.
Because of this I had to mature at a very young age. Coming from a traditional Mexican household, as the oldest daughter, I had to take on a lot of family responsibility. I was 10 years old when it was decided I would be the mediator for my family when we went through hard times. Unfortunately, there were a lot of hard times.
Although I was living with my grandparents, my mother would come to visit and check up on me and my siblings. Around the time I turned 11, my mom had taken my little sister and youngest brother with her and left me and my oldest brother under the care of my grandparents. Around that same time, my oldest brother began to disappear with his friends and my mom didn’t take that too well. When he would eventually come home, my mom would scold him, but would also include me only to back her up. As a child I didn’t want to get my brother in trouble and I didn’t want to make my mom mad so I was forced to come up with solutions to make the problems go away. This continued with every fight, every argument, and every problem my family had faced. I was forced to be quick on my feet to deescalate any heated situation which in turn caused me to have severe anxiety. I became very distant which only worsened my relationship with my family. But I wanted to make things right so in middle school when I was 13 years old my mom asked me and my siblings if we wanted to live with her. She lived close to the school I was attending and I said yes.
For the first time since my sister and younger brother left I was finally able to live with all my siblings and my mom. I only lasted 1 year before I moved back with my grandparents. My siblings and I had became so detached that we couldn’t spend 20 minutes together in the same room without someone getting into a physical altercation or very a intense argument. My mom was always working so I had taken it upon myself to cook, clean, and babysit along with being the mediator between the four of us. My youngest brother at the time was still a toddler and wasn’t getting the attention he needed. With all that going on, I did not have the time or the patience to be a mom and a sister with all my siblings. The amount of stress and confusion I had accumulated in just 4 years was too much for me. I had fallen into a deep state of depression and had very high anxiety entering my first year of high school. I had only spent 2 months in classes before I succumbed to my depression and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
After I got out I changed schools and went to continuation school where I met some amazing people who I am proud to call my friends. I thought this school would be good to me and it was until I ended up getting into my first relationship with a student at that school. I found myself in a very mentally and emotionally abusive relationship where I was manipulated everyday for almost 5 years. I finally gained the courage to leave him as I was entering a new chapter in my life while starting college. For the first time in years, I was thriving and was given many opportunities on campus that I never knew were possible thanks to my history in foster care. Halfway through my third year, I was spending some time with my aunt and her close friend Sergio. When I had mentioned I was looking for a job, he told me about how his sister Maribel running a non-profit called In the Making. I was immediately intrigued and just like that, Sergio got me in contact with Maribel and soon enough, I was accepted into the ITM family.
Since working at In The Making, I’ve been given the chance to grow as a person. At ITM, we are required to read a book called the Four Agreements. It is based around self improvement and changing your perceptive for the better. Reading these agreements have grounded me to put my all in not only my work but also in my future goals and dreams. I’ve also grown in my field of study. ITM has provided me with many opportunities to further advance and get experience in my career.
I spoke to Maribel about my major under environmental Science and she gave me a role in taking care of the garden here at ITM. Further into my experience I was presented with outside opportunities to work in environmental construction where I help improve dry areas by removing dead trees and shrubbery to prevent wild fires in suburban areas. Through all these experiences I have made future plans with ITM. I hope to work alongside Maribel to work on gardens in high schools around the area. Without in The Making I wouldn’t have gone as far as I have today. They have boosted me farther into my career and given me a head start into my future.