As a sophomore in high school, Brigette (Haley) Singletary was struggling. Her grades were poor and she wasn’t even considering college as an option after she graduated.
Brigette’s troubles in school stemmed from issues at home that were bigger than most teenagers could handle. “I was sneaking out of the house all the time because I just didn’t want to be there. Had I continued down that path, I’m pretty sure I would have started abusing drugs,” Brigette said.
It was during that sophomore year that Brigette befriended a teammate on the pom and dance team, Sarah. The two quickly became good friends. Sarah’s mother, Sharlot Bogart, could see Brigette’s struggles, and offered to let her stay with the family when things were bad. “She knew about the things going on in my life, and she always offered to let me stay with them.” Brigette said. “I would go over there and eat them out of house and home.”
So when Brigette’s mother told CPS that Brigette would need to be placed in another home, Brigette turned to Sharlot. Sharlot became a licensed foster parent and happily made Brigette a part of her family. She treated Brigette like a daughter, including setting down structure for Brigette.
“She set down guidelines for me, and after the first year I was there, she started making rules. She would say, ‘If you get a D, you don’t drive,’ or ‘If you are going to skip school, I’m going to sit in school with you.’” Brigette said.
It was exactly what Brigette needed. With Sharlot’s support, Brigette no longer had to worry about an abusive home or sneaking out of the house. With that weight off her shoulders, Brigette’s grades improved, but she still wasn’t sure she would be accepted into college. “I never pictured going to college because I didn’t have the grades to go to college. I didn’t think anyone was going to accept me.” Brigette said.
Sharlot gave Brigette the confidence to apply to school and the belief that she could make good things happen. Brigette applied and was accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Brigette not only graduated from UWM, but she is now enrolled in the MBA program there and plans to get her Certified Public Accounting accreditation. Brigette also partnered with Kids Matter to put on a fund-raising event at the Nomad World Pub on May 20, 2010. “I would have never thought I was good enough if it wasn’t for the help that Sharlot gave, and I wouldn’t have gone to school to become an accountant had she not shown me how good I was with numbers. She has helped me see the positive in life rather than getting upset and dwelling on the negative,” Brigette said.
Brigette said that Sharlot’s support showed that she could change her life for the better, and that many foster youth struggle because they don’t have the support of someone who believes in them. Now Brigette would like to be the one to show foster youth that they can accomplish their goals, and she is teaming up with Kids Matter to make that happen.
Brigette plans on becoming a CASA volunteer when she is done with school, but until then, she had the idea to put on an event to raise awareness of foster care. In 2010 she started the event “Giving back has never been this much fun!” The event was a huge success!
Brigette said that college students often want to get involved, but don’t know how to help. She said that she wanted to create an event that shows that college students and young people can make a difference, no matter how much they are able give. “If you just give five dollars, you can help this great cause and have a great time. I think a lot of people want to help, but just don’t know what they can do,” Brigette said.
The future looks bright for Brigette. She found support to go to school and accomplish things she did not think possible, and now she is using that success to give back to foster youth.