Resilient foster child with big dreams enrolls at Grace College

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 5:30 PM EDT
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WARSAW, Ind. (WNDU) - Grace College welcomed students back to campus this fall and unveiled this year’s campus theme: journey. That word really resonated with an incoming freshman, whose own journey has been full of challenges.

“A lot of people say I’m crazy for smiling so much,” said Jamall Werling. “I don’t know why I smile a lot.”

18 year old Werling has one of those thousand watt smiles; a smile that’s never faded through his own difficult journey.

“My mom couldn’t take care of me and sent me to live with my grandparents,” Werling said. “I went to 5 different schools in three years.”

And then, a day Jamall will never forget.

“Second semester freshman year, I remember getting on the bus and police cars show up,” Werling said. “They took my mom out as the bus drove away.”

At age 15, he entered the foster care system. As he moved between foster homes, he continued to focus on school and working towards a brighter future.

“That’s when I met Steve and Ashley Smith and I call them my parents now,” Werling said. “Not only did I get my name legally changed, they’ve provided and looked out for me in the darkest moments.”

His parents are a big reason why he ended up at Grace College and when Jamall heard this year’s theme was ‘journey’, he knew it was meant to be.

“That word defines me personally,” Werling said. “Growing up in a non-financial home, it was a struggle to get good grades. When I went to foster care, they pushed me and made me want to push myself.”

Werling plans to pursue law school and become an attorney. Working to help kids, just like him, in the justice system.

“Even in your darkest days, there is always light,” Werling said.

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