Building bridges did not always come naturally for Hawa. After struggling to form secure attachments with caregivers, Hawa made the personal decision at age 13 to come to Methodist Children’s Home and learn how to build connections and reach her potential. In 2012, she moved to the Waco campus where her journey began.
Shortly after arriving at MCH, Hawa joined the choir and praise band, which allowed her to maintain her interest in music and complemented her love for leading worship. Her faith, along with the relationships she built with caregivers, gave her the confidence she needed to flourish.
Program Administrator Erica Reyes-Rosas remembers Hawa as a vivacious and caring girl searching for attachment, acceptance and guidance when she arrived.
“She quickly grew to be a confident and determined young lady,” said Reyes-Rosas. “The connections Hawa formed gave her the reassurance and safety she needed to set goals and achieve them.”
Hawa said the relationships she formed at MCH helped her recognize her own potential. She continues to use many of the skills learned at MCH as she navigates adulthood, which allow her to take responsibility for her actions and manage emotions better as an adult.
“Some of the staff were tough on me, but they also encouraged me to reach for my dreams,” she said. “Looking back, I know they pushed me out of love and wanted the best for me.”
Today, Hawa is an honors student pursuing a degree in music therapy at Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Denton, and working as a full-time caregiver. She also holds a leadership position in the Baptist Student Ministry at TWU, which has given her additional opportunities to stay connected to God and her Christian community. Her decision to study music therapy combines her passion for music and helping those with social challenges.
Hawa said she finds deep meaning in serving others, in part because she can relate to their struggles to process feelings and connection.
“At a young age, I became captivated with the autistic population after caring for a young boy with autism,” Hawa explained. “His ability to accept others, show deep compassion and appreciate life was a real gift.”
Hawa hopes to use her degree to open a school serving autistic children and adults who are often unable to verbalize their thoughts and feelings freely.
“Music has the ability to open pathways in our brain that help with speech patterns and physical movements, and also give people a vehicle to connect with others,” she said, adding that adapting to the child or adult’s needs allows them to learn more effectively and, ultimately, become more successful in society.
“People with autism are often misunderstood and capable of so much more than we realize,” Hawa said. “I want to reach those that society does not seem to understand or appreciate.”
The relationships Hawa formed at MCH continue to open doors for her today. Hawa received the Albaugh Scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year, nominated by MCH staff.
Angie Vaughn, case manager for transition services, said students selected for this honors scholarship are those who strive for success and demonstrate good stewardship.
“Hawa has blossomed into the young woman she was always capable of becoming,” Vaughn said. “She has grown in her maturity by taking on more responsibility, becoming more independent and earning an education that will enable her to serve the community.”
“I have built a system of bridges from relationships with people who saw the potential in me and accepted me through my hard times,” Hawa said. Her advice to youth in care today is that they focus on restoring and building bridges with those who accept them and challenge them to pursue their dreams.
Transition Services helps former residents and children served through MCH foster care make a successful transition to independent living and adjust to college or the workforce. To learn more, visit our Transition Services page.