Teen mom beats the odds, graduates from college debt-free

Photo Courtesy: Janel Lanae Young

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A Columbus mom is beating the odds after giving birth at 15-years-old while living in foster care.

Janel Lanae Young had a lot working against her, but said her education always pushed her forward.

Janel grew up in what she describes as a war zone. She was physically and mentally abused by her mother who struggled with alcohol abuse. She was then yanked in and out of nine foster care homes and went to eight different high schools.

When she felt her lowest of low, she attempted suicide three times.

“With her neglect and lack of safety, I faced multiple sexual assaults over time. Growing up in a home like that taught me early on that God and myself was all that I had and that I could not trust or rely on others for anything, even the things that they were responsible for,” Janel Lanae Young said.

Photo Courtesy: Janel Lanae Young
Photo Courtesy: Janel Lanae Young

Through it all, Young continued to excel in the classroom. In 5th grade, her teacher nominated her for Ohio State University’s Young Scholars Program.

It helps first generation and low-income students get a full ride to college.

She had to go to mandatory meetings every two weeks and with a baby and no car, she found a case worker who helped her make it through.

“She would pick me up and take me to these meetings that start at 6pm, don’t end until 8pm, she drops me off at 9:30pm at night, gets me something to eat, watches my child,” Young said. “After four case workers, I finally found one that cared about me”

Young is now an Ohio State graduate with a degree from the College of Social Work.

She now wants to help young girls in the foster care system with her non-profit organization T.R.U.E Beauty Enterprises. She runs workshops focused on self-worth.

Her now 7-year-old daughter, Malena Young, is also a wiz in the classroom. Young loves to read and her speciality is writing her mother love notes.

“Overtime, I really think that I got pregnant so God could show me unconditional love like real love,” Young said.

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