Shamika Lee took her eighth grade teacher seriously when she told her students that "to whom much is given, much is required." As a former foster care child, she feels responsible to give back to children who are also growing up in foster care.
Today, Shamika—an MBA Harvard Business School student—is a board member and volunteer at Graham Windham, the foster care agency where she was once housed. She knows firsthand that children entering the foster care system face many challenges, including dealing with the abuse, neglect, and/or poverty they may have previously experienced.
Shamika remembers struggling with these serious issues, as well as the smaller issues, such as coming into foster care with a wardrobe that consists of the clothing on your back. Not wanting other children to experience this, she recruited a local department store to donate clothing and overstocks to Graham Windham, which children can access when they enter the agency.
Shamika also started an Annual Holiday Gift Drive for teens, working tirelessly to procure gift donations from corporations.
Shamika has touched each child and staff member she has met while volunteering. Her positive attitude and ever-present smile is infectious. Children at Graham Windham have hope that they can succeed and achieve their goals as a result of Shamika’s example.
Her volunteer efforts also have focused on education, and she helped expand Graham Windham youth services to include college tours and SAT preparation (she recruited Kaplan Test Prep to offer free SAT prep classes for the teens). In addition, Shamika advocates for foster youth, lobbying state legislators for improvements to the foster care system.
Shamika is unique in that she has had many obstacles to overcome, yet she does not have a chip on her shoulder; she has a drive to succeed and help others do the same. She is so dedicated to helping children in the foster care system that she spends numerous hours serving. Shamika cannot rest until her tasks are completed and the children’s needs are met to the best of her ability. She is driven to serve because she feels it is her responsibility. Shamika also believes people do not need more than several hours of sleep!