Victoria Yurkins' memoir, 'Lost in the System' tells her story of bouncing from home to home — and of not giving up.
Norco College student Victoria Yurkins, left, is seen with Tabitha Johnson, an administrative assistant with the college's Extended Opportunity Programs and Services. Yurkins has written a new book about her experiences in the foster care system.
Victoria Yurkins knows what it's like to grow up in the foster-care system.
She never experienced a sense of family because she was bouncing from home to home. She understands how it feels to lose hope, struggle as a single mother and then discover a fire inside that pushed her to pursue a college degree despite the odds.
Yurkins, 33, shares this story in a new memoir, “Lost in the System."
The Corona resident, a full-time Norco College student, said she had been trying to write a book for five years and recently self-published it on Amazon.
“Everyone I talk to, they always tell me, 'Your story is so amazing. You should write a book,'" Yurkins said. “It was a little triggering because you write a lot of your trauma down and it brings it up. I would write and then take breaks."
Yurkins, who plans to graduate from the college in June with dual associate arts degrees in psychology and behavioral studies, said she went into foster care when she was 1 year old after her parents gave up their rights. Her mother was incarcerated at the time, she said. Neglected and treated poorly, Yurkins said she struggled in school and dropped out twice.
The expectant mother of two said she wrote the book to show the realities of the foster-care system.
At Norco College, Yurkins works as a peer mentor for foster youth through the college's Phoenix Scholars program. She meets with students one on one to connect them with resources.
Only 3 percent of foster youths graduate from college, according to Yurkins, who added that she mentally gave up on school when she was in elementary school because she kept moving. She later earned a GED and tried community college. But, as a single mother, she didn't have the resources she needed.
“No one is really pushing us through school," she said. “So why are we going to try to finish school as adults?"
Trying to help her son with his homework and realizing she couldn't gave Yurkins the final push to pursue her degree.
Justin Mendez, a student success coach in Norco College's Office of Grants and Student Equity, met Yurkins in 2017 when he was her adviser. When a peer mentor position opened and Yurkins got the job, Mendez became her supervisor.
“She never ceases to amaze me," he said. “She knows how to seize an opportunity. She's an example. She meets the students where they're at, and she brings love to the community."
Besides her job at the college, Yurkins also founded a club on campus called Rising Scholars.
“We go out in the community or on campus and bring awareness of foster care youth experiences and the struggles we go through," she said.
Yurkins plans to transfer in fall and pursue and bachelor's degree in psychology. She credits her children with helping her succeed.
“My kids are my biggest supporters," she said. “Even though they don't say it to my face, I hear them say it others. It keeps me going."
Courtesy of the Press Enterprise