Photo by Jim Massara
Azureblue White, Kinship Care’s first child to graduate from college, addresses the graduates.
Clayton County’s Kinship Care program, better known as Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, honored its first child to earn a college diploma Thursday at its annual graduation celebration in Jonesboro.
Azureblue White, of Riverdale, who gave the group’s commencement speech, received her degree in social work from Fort Valley State earlier this year and started her first job as a human-services manager at a LaGrange facility for troubled youth earlier this month.
Social work, she said, was a logical fit for her life experience, with parents absent and having been raised by her grandmother Anita. But she had to circle around it a few times before she realized her calling.
First, she told the other graduates, she wanted to be a veterinarian but discovered she wasn’t a “fan of the sight of blood.” Then, she tried psychology, but didn’t feel comfortable there. After that, she studied mass communications because, she said with a smile, she thought she “would look good on TV.”
The next major, middle-grade education, was closer to her passion. “Now I was on to something,” she said. “I want to teach, but I wanted something more, something deeper.”
That ultimately led her to social work, which she said combined communicating, teaching and psychology.
Even though she has her first job, White said she’s already working on graduate degrees in social work and criminal justice at Albany State University.
Angie Burda, program coordinator for the Kinship Care since its inception in Clayton County in 2003, said she wasn’t surprised at White’s success.
“She was always an exceptional youth in the program, motivated and driven,” Burda said of White, who’d been with Kinship Care almost from the beginning. “She’s just matured into such a wonderful young lady.”
White was one of 11 graduates, including both children and grandparents, honored Thursday. Others included Lonnie Baker, Christopher Brinkley, Keenan Marrow, Breyanna Miller, Jordon Moton, Dwayne Samuels, Tahsaé Thompson, Tanya Hollington, Thomas Hollington, and Gretchen Ramsey.
The Kinship Care Program, administered by Clayton County’s Senior Services Department, serves families where children are cared for by relatives other than parents. The program, which receives referrals from other social-service agencies, schools and juvenile courts, offers support groups, educational opportunities and even a summer day camp for its participants. For more information, call (770) 477-3417.