From Foster Child to CEO: How Resiliency Changed Her Life

Listen to this Podcast Episode

Naketa with kids“It’s going to get better, hang in there, it is going to get better,” says Naketa Ross.  She has seen first hand how life can turn around.

Ross is the founder of a Phoenix based nonprofit called “Resilient Me”.  She became fascinated with the concept of resiliency when it manifested in her life.  

Tragedy was all she knew at a young age.  Ross’ mother was a drug addict.  She was raped and murdered; her head bashed in and lifeless body left naked on a Chicago street.  

After her mother’s murder, Ross bounced from foster care home to foster care home — some better than others.  She remembers one of the more painful moments at a home in Chicago when she and her sister were made to sleep outside on the porch, with the dogs.  

Through the course of her journey, Ross says, she suffered physical and sexual abuse and by the time she was 18, she was angry and unsure of her true place in the world

Ross had a baby and ended up homeless.  It was a turning point.

“I didn’t want her to experience what I experienced.  I started to reach out which is so huge.  But to reach out I had to say what I had been through.”

She began to focus on positive self talk saying over and over “You are better than this.  You are better.”

“It just started making me feel better about myself,” Ross says.   “I am stronger, I am better.   Setting goals gave me something to look forward to because before that I was just existing.”

She was learning to be resilient — to not let her past define her future.

Ross went on to study psychology at Southern Illinois University.  She wrote to the Dean of the college and ended up having her research funded so she could study resiliency on campus.  

As a former foster child, Ross had a special interest in working to help kids who were traveling the same painful and lonely path.  As a case manager, she realized when kids turn 18, they age out of the system, and if they are not prepared, many end up homeless or incarcerated.

Ross started her nonprofit to help foster kids prepare for their future.  Because, no matter what happened in the past, everyone has the ability to create a future.  

Ross’ foundation, Resilient Me, starts working with kids when they are 15 asking them “what does it mean to utilize what’s around you to meet your goals?  What are the realistic steps to take to reach those goals.”

“Each person is resilient in a different way,”  Ross says.  The key “is finding your unique strengths and your unique talents.”