Find Your Passion: Student Beats the Foster-Care Odds

Sean HudsonHudson stands outside UA’s Little Hall. He hopes to become a family court judge and be a positive influence on youth. (Bryan Hester)

By Deirdra Drinkard

University of Alabama student Sean Hudson could have been a statistic – instead he’s a success story.

The sophomore from Bessemer grew up under the foster care system, and he says he has made it his mission to show the world what can be achieved by those from foster care backgrounds.

“I think as foster or adoptive children, we place limits on ourselves because of the situations we are in. My goal is to destroy that particular mentality by erasing any doubts about our abilities,” he says.

Thanks to help from the Terry and Nick Saban First in Family Scholarship, the Hill Crest Foundation, and the Orphan Foundation of America, Hudson says he is able to focus on his goal of becoming a first-generation college graduate.

A social work and psychology major, Hudson has a plan. He says he wants to earn his master’s degree in social work and then apply to UA’s Law School so he can one day be a family court judge.

“By becoming a family court circuit judge, I will be able to help mold youth into productive citizens,” Hudson says.

Sean HudsonHudson travels regularly, telling young people his story and offering encouragement. (Bryan Hester)

In his brief time on campus, Hudson has already made an impact. During his freshman year, he was elected president of the Dedicated Responsible Empowered and Motivated Council, vice president of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, assistant director of Up Till Dawn, clerk for the Student Judiciary Board, and undergraduate research apprentice for the UA School of Social Work.

“My freshman year was amazing,” says Hudson. “I got a 3.8 GPA in school.”

Hudson was able to take part in the UA Honors College Emerging Scholars Program, designed to engage freshmen in research initiatives by partnering participants with faculty members.

“I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell in the School of Social Work,” Hudson says. The project focused on a program evaluation of some 170 nonprofit organizations that deal with child welfare issues.

“My part in this project was data collection and researching information regarding program evaluations,” he says.

Nelson-Gardell says she found Hudson to be someone who ‘practices what he preaches.’

“Sean’s strong belief in social justice, combined with the strengths he has gained from surviving the challenges life has thrown at him, gives him a powerful motivation to make his life worthwhile,” Nelson-Gardell says.

As president of the DREAM Council, Hudson travels statewide, holding conferences each month and telling young people his story and encouraging them to try to make the best of their situations.

Hudson was recently recognized as the only foster student from Alabama named a 2010 Outstanding Young Leader. As part of the award, Hudson recently traveled to Washington, D.C., and attended the Daniel Memorial Institute “Growing Pains” National Independent Living Conference.

Prior to his departure, Hudson said the conference would provide new and innovative ways to help him teach foster youth independent living skills.

“I want to raise expectations of foster youth,” he says.

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Deirdra Drinkard is a senior in The University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences. She has worked as a student intern in the UA Office of Media Relations during the 2010 summer and fall semesters.

This story is part of the Find Your Passion feature section of the UA home page. For more stories, please visit Find Your Passion or Crimson Spotlight. To learn more about how you can find your passion at The University of Alabama, please visit UA Undergraduate Admissions.