Class NotesView All Notes for Class of 2011
Please welcome a guest column by Maggie Lin: “Like many, I have spent every year since graduation attempting to live up to my Dartmouth education. As a philosophy major, that proved to be difficult as evidenced by my resume, which reflects a different job every single year in four different countries since our graduation in 2011. However, all the jobs I had around the world brought me closer to my Dartmouth family than I could possibly imagine. And perhaps that was always the intention behind the small College on the Hill. I reside in L.A., where I run a nonprofit called Foster Nation (www.fosternation.org) with a mission to support and empower foster youth as they age out of the foster care system. Our goal is to rally and engage millennials and young leaders to champion the foster care cause so that we can foster a nation of supporters, mentors, and future foster parents for the 400,000-plus children who are in the system today through no fault of their own. We have been fortunate enough to have the generous support of the Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation (led by Tony Pritzker ’81), which allows our organization to collaborate with the county and established nonprofits working in the foster care space because they are also part of the Pritzker foster care initiative.
“My journey to Foster Nation was not easy. I understand firsthand the vulnerability of sharing your life story with people who may possibly not understand. In my time at Dartmouth I may have shared with a few of my classmates, but not more than a handful, that I grew up in the foster care system. While this was a large part of my identity, having lived through eight different foster homes in 10 years, I was too ashamed and afraid to stand out from my classmates—many of whom had families to return to during the winter and summer vacations. While I had a foster family that I was close to, I spent the majority of my breaks looking for opportunities. The reality is that the years I spent at Dartmouth were the most stable and the longest period of time I had spent anywhere. For the safe haven Dartmouth gave me, I have always felt an undying loyalty to serve and give back to the Dartmouth community.
“I overcame the fear of being seen as ‘different’ or ‘damaged’ by asking myself this question: How can anyone actually find a solution to a problem they don’t know exists? The answer came in the form of cofounding Foster Nation and starting the Young Leaders Collective, a group of professionals and change-makers who are successful in their careers and want to give back in some way. The launch of the L.A. chapter included Kyle Battle and Shayla Mars, and the New York chapter includes Amaris Galea-Orbe and previously Jane Cai ’13. We have had incredible supporters such as Tony Pritzker and his family, Jan Brzeski ’89 and his wife, the Dartmouth Club of Los Angeles, and many other alums from different years. When I realized that it was important to speak up and speak out about my experiences in foster care, the support and love I received from the people around me, especially the Dartmouth community, was unbelievable. This was when I understood what Daniel Webster meant when he uttered, ‘Sir, it is a small college, yet there are those who love it.’ It is precisely the smallness of Dartmouth, with the bigness of those who attend it, that reminds me why I loved and continue to love our College.”
—Hillary S. Cheng, 16013 Legacy Road, Unit 304, Tustin, CA 92782; (603) 546-8452; email@example.com