Roaring Fork senior profile: Working hard to help other foster care youth in the future |

Roaring Fork senior profile: Working hard to help other foster care youth in the future

Darian Armer
Special to the Post Independent

Emmalee Machart, graduating senior at Roaring Fork High School has overcome a lot early in her life. She’s spent years in the foster care system, learning that if she wanted to succeed she would have to help herself.

“Going from foster home to foster home, eventually you start to realize that the only person that moves with you is yourself. I’m the only person who’s going to stick with me throughout my life and I need to take care of myself. You’ll have good foster families and bad families. I was in foster care with a few of my siblings at one point, then we got separated. So, although I do have family, I know they’re not going to be here. I’m moving alone,” she said.

Machart is 18 and currently lives with her aunt. Living in a world where moving to a new family and a new school were common occurrences, Machart said she found comfort knowing how hard she worked and how hard she tried in school were things that she could control.

“I definitely transferred schools way more than I wanted to. Being the new girl wasn’t like it is in the movies. I felt a lot of embarrassment being in the system,” she said. “The other part was that I didn’t really get to have stuff. I never got to have my own room or my own things. I could only own a few things in case they wanted to move you to a new home the next day. Everything had to fit in a box.”

Machart said there were teachers throughout elementary school that would help out by giving her clothes or backpacks, things they knew she couldn’t afford, but as far as learning and homework went, she knew she was on her own.

“The main reason I tried so hard in school was because school was the one place I felt like I could control. I couldn’t control home,” she said.

With that in mind, Machart got involved in many different things in school, including Future Business Leaders of America, Outdoor Club, Geek Squad and school journalism, writing stories and taking photos. All of her hard work has paid off, as she’ll be attending the University of Colorado next year doing exploratory studies. She’s also been accepted into the McNeill Academic program, which only accepts 100 students per year.

Her advice for incoming freshman is to stay focused.

“Focus on yourself. That’s the only person who’s going to stay there for all those years. I made so many friends and they would leave. People are always going to come and go in your life. Always focus on your own grades, and know that no matter what, things can change. Like a global pandemic,” she said.

Machart also said she wishes teachers were more aware of what’s happening with foster kids and the emotions they might be feeling.

“There’s going to be tough days for foster kids and there’s going to be good days. There’s a documentary on Netflix about Gabriel Hernandez. His social worker was actually my social worker when I lived in California. Then I moved to Colorado. Watching that I think, ‘How could that social worker not notice? How could teachers not notice?’ Focus on signs of abuse. It happens more often than we’d like in foster homes,” she said.

She wants to help change that, by becoming a lawyer who works to make a difference in the lives of foster kids.

“I want to start off in psychology. In foster care, you’re required to go to therapy. They assume you’ve gone through a traumatic experience and need mental health help. A lot of therapists I saw didn’t get me and it wasn’t helpful,” Machart said. “I want to be the person I feel like I needed when I was younger.”

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