“It’s cool to have a permanent family.”

In June of 2018, after 1,599 days in foster care, Damien became a Holley. Permanently.

Now, Damien is off to college! We’re excited to check in with this family as Damien pursues this exciting next step.

Oftentimes, foster children face barriers when they aspire to pursue post-secondary education. While 84% of these kids want to attend college only 20% do.

Damien had a specific vision and goal since he was 15. And thanks to his parents, Ron and Sharity, he had the opportunity and perseverance to work towards his goal.

“Damien knew he wanted to be a farmer since he was 15,” Damien’s father, Ron said. “He knew college would be a part of his path and worked hard to keep his GPA up, while we kept him reminded of future events and deadlines for paperwork and applications.”

The Holley’s toured several different colleges trying to find the right fit for Damien. They found that fit in Wisconson, where Damien is enrolled, studying agriculture at the University of Wisconson-River Falls.

Damien faced several obstacles on his path to college, the biggest challenge coming from completing the process during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. “It was very stressful, from gathering additional paperwork on being an independent student to settling Damien’s anxiety of being in a new environment, 11 hours away from home,” Damien’s mom Sharity commented. The family made move-in weekend a family event, spending a mini-vacation in Wisconson taking in local landmarks and even visiting the Mall of America.

“The best moment was move-in day, sitting in Damien’s dorm, eating lunch. It was a very surreal moment; finally being able to reflect on his journey to college, and how excited we were as parents, to see Damien’s excitement for the next chapter in his life,” Sharity and Ron said.

Damien is settled in and enjoying college. Of course, he is experiencing a little homesickness and all of the other typical freshman anxieties. “College is going okay,” Damien said. “Classes aren’t hard but it can be quite difficult to remain motivated to do some of the assignments.” He is enjoying time with friends while missing mom and dad back home. “The thing I like most about college is that I have time to do other things like work and hang out with friends and not just study all the time,” Damien said. “I miss having home-cooked meals and of course my family and my cat.”

Teenagers like Damien have the desire, potential, and strength to succeed. They just need a family willing to open their hearts and their homes to them. Sharity and Ron encourage people to consider foster care and adoption, especially for teens like Damien that need a loving home. “You’re stepping into this child’s life at one of many important parts of their lives. They will need your love, encouragement, inspiration, and dedication.

Click here to learn more about foster care and adoption.

Damien’s Story Part 1

Damien’s Story Part 2