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Okanagan College student soars after turbulent upbringing

Kimberly Alaric was a former youth in care now pursuing a career in aviation

From her experiences as a former youth in care, Kimberly Alaric is using her story to help other kids from similar situations find their own paths to success.

The second-year aviation student with Okanagan College’s commercial aviation diploma program has come a long way from her past, and is now mapping out the flight plan for her dream job.

“Growing up in a small town in the Kootenays, there was not a lot of support for me or my family,” said Alaric. “We lived in poverty. There was a substantial amount of neglect and emotional abuse. My parents are good people who struggle with depression and alcoholism. They haven’t always made great choices for our family.”

“I needed more for myself and my two younger brothers. I wasn’t even 10 years old and felt that I was the responsible one making sure we had food to eat and a clean place to live. I was caring for my siblings, acting as their mother.”

“I knew from a young age that I didn’t want to continue that cycle.”

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Alaric often thought how amazing it would be to fly in an airplane, but she thought it unlikely that a small-town girl who had no money for education and no support could ever become a pilot.

For almost two years, Alaric bounced around. She was taken in by a cousin who was in her early twenties and then was adopted by her friend’s family. After receiving devastating news about the state of her mother’s mental health, Kimberly moved back home for her brothers. About a year later, the three went into foster care.

Eventually, Alaric entered into a youth agreement with the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

“It gave me the supports I needed to live independently. I found myself an apartment close to my brothers. I had two jobs – all while finishing high school,” she said.

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Alaric discovered her passion for flying when she visited the air cadets with her brothers and uncle. She was working towards her private pilot’s license and enrolling at the college within weeks, chasing a dream she never thought would become a reality.

“Here I am, a small-town girl who lived in poverty and in care, working towards my dreams. I’m able to attend school thanks to the Tuition Waiver Program my social workers helped me with,” she said.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without their hard work.”

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Now 22 years old, Alaric is set to take her commercial flight test in late June in hopes of breaking into the industry this time next year.

She said that though her experiences, she wants to dismantle the negative stigma surrounding B.C.’s foster care system and continue her work mentoring young people as she continues on her career path.

“I want to be a role model, a big sister. I also want to encourage young adults to take pride in who you are and what you have accomplished.”

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Alaric’s story is being told as part of B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week (June 3-9), which celebrates the diverse talents, accomplishments and resiliency of youth in and from care.

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