Achieving Educational Success and Helping Others Do the Same
Onie firmly believes that you can overcome any obstacles in life when you have love and support from others.
Onie spent 12 years in foster care, but she didn't let that dampen her enthusiasm for education. She graduated from Simeon Career Academy with the help of a 4-year academic scholarship from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). With the love and support of her foster mom, Ethel, she became the first person in her family to graduate from college—with a bachelor's degree in African-American studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After graduating, Onie decided that she wanted a career in child welfare.
Today she is the supervisor of educational services for UCAN, a social service organization in Chicago that works with families and children in the Illinois child welfare system. At UCAN, Onie helped create the High School to College (H2C) program that provides interventions for youth in foster care in Chicago public schools to help improve their chances for graduation.
While running the program, Onie decided to go to graduate school herself. She wanted to set an example for the students she served and to show that growing up in foster care doesn't mean you can't achieve academic success. In 2010, she earned an M.S. degree in nonprofit management with a concentration in fundraising.
Onie is living proof that education is a powerful resource. Along with the DCFS scholarship, Onie has received an Orphan Foundation of America scholarship and a Community Services Block Grant scholarship. Onie is working on mastering her fundraising skills and sits on the board of directors for a child welfare organization. She loves helping donors understand their impact on society while maximizing their giving. Onie has seen the impact that giving has on others.
Onie has done her best to succeed in life while overcoming many obstacles. She credits her sense of determination to her mentor, Jennifer, who helped her learn how to be responsible and make good decisions. She uses her many accomplishments in life as a testimony to other youth in care. She tells people, "Foster care brought some amazing people, opportunities, and resources my way. The experience changed my life for the better!"
Onie loves spending time with her foster family—still in her life even after she emancipated from foster care—her biological family, and her 5-year-old daughter.