SoCal college-bound foster youth honored for their triumph over adversity

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Walt Disney Concert Hall on Tuesday hosted a graduation for dozens of college-bound foster youth.

A total of 170 graduates were recognized not just for their achievements in school, but for their accomplishments in life.

The graduates will all receive scholarships as they prepare for the next phase of their lives.

One of those students is Ed Nikko Cano, who was removed from his mother's care as an eighth grader.

"With the support of my foster family, uncle and aunt, I've been able to become more developed as a person," he said.

Despite his circumstances, he managed to excel in high school and plans to become a doctor.

For Joelle Walley, the transition to foster care happened at a critical time in high school.

"I entered in the foster care system in second semester ninth grade, and it really came down to needs being unmet, and now I'm placed with my older brother," she said.

And yet, she managed to get a 4.4 GPA and get into University of California, Berkeley.

All of these young adults, incredible in their own way, survived tough times to become exceptional people.

"Ultimately, we're not our circumstance, and to make it out of that circumstance is something that can inspire others, and I feel like that's kind of what we're here to do," Walley said.

Each graduate was also given a suitcase as a gift from actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish, who was also in foster care.

"Don't be afraid to tell your story guys," she told the group. "You can take a page out of my book. Literally, it's a New York Times best seller."
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