Foster child graduates from college and heads to Washington to make a difference

Posted at 5:50 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-18 18:01:06-04

Princess Harmon is a 22-year-old Communications graduate of Michigan State University.  And this proud Spartan is dreaming of opportunities ahead.

 "I like to see the world for how it is, but I also believe it could be better," said Harmon.

Being a foster child does not define her, but she'll never forget being taken away from her mentally ill mother on her 7th birthday.

"Not knowing whether my Mother would get better in enough time for the judge to allow her to take us back, that was hard, too. But being with my brothers helped a lot," she explained.

Her great aunt Denise McGruder took in Princess and her brothers Joshua and Zachary 16 years ago.  She eventually became their formal foster parent.

State reimbursements were modest.  Money was always tight.

"I worked two jobs for years to try to compensate," said McGruder.

She was able to get Princess accepted into Detroit Country Day thanks to a scholarship program through the Skillman Foundation.

Attending State was made possible through federal Education and Training Voucher" funding coordinated by Samaritas.  She became a student leader.

And when she graduated in the spring of 2016, she wanted to give back. 

She was selected for a summer internship in Washington D.C. with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Insitute.

And it was no fluff gig.  She wrote a policy report on updating an outdated foster care reimbursement rate.

"So that their parents are able to provide more for [foster children] in a way of things that promote positive life outcomes like camp or like tutoring, or things like that. My aunt had to pay out of her own pocket of course," said Harmon.

She recognizes how hard her great aunt worked to raise three children.

She got emotional when asked how to describe her Great Aunt.

'I can't event describe her without bursting out into tears," she said wiping tears from her eyes.

Harmon is now studying for the LSAT.  She wants to become a lawyer and possibly work on child welfare issues, social justice, and women's rights.

You can read Princess Harmon's child welfare reform policy report online HERE.