A man who was homeless as a child and lived on the streets with his parents has beaten the odds and is now set to enter a doctoral program at UCA in the fall.
Mich Hamlin, now 24, had lived with his parents and two brothers on the streets of southern California since he was 6 years old.
“I guess I was so accustomed to our living situation that I never really processed that, ‘Oh, kids actually go home and have a bed, a shower and warm food on the table every night,’” Hamlin told UCA News.
Life on the streets wasn’t easy. His parents were both drug addicts who worked under-the-table jobs and squandered most of their money on substance abuse rather than food for the family.
They feared the authorities most of the time, and so they would stay in different places every night. “In my head, it ended up turning into a game of not getting caught,” Hamlin said.
“Our unique housing situation consisted of living in the local parks, cars, trash bin containers, shelters and when lucky a motel for the night,” Hamlin told The Epoch Times. “Not knowing better we were not embarrassed by how [we] lived because it was all we knew at that time.”
His father had a bike that they would use to transport their belongings to the gas station down the street where he and his brothers would shower using the sink every morning, before being dropped off at school by their parents.
The school used to provide breakfast and lunch to Hamlin and his brothers, and they would also resort to reentering the cue to bring some extra food home.
On Fridays, their teachers would offer them Spam, granola bars, canned hot dogs, water, and juice to hold them over during the weekend.
But when Hamlin’s mom showed up at their school in December 2005, an office worker caught the smell of alcohol on her and called the police.
At that time, Hamlin was in seventh grade. His mom was arrested, and Hamlin and his siblings were taken into foster care.
The boys kept hoping that their father would find a way to sort things out and the foster home would last only a short while.
“Unfortunately, that never occurred,” said Hamlin.
After their mom succumbed to liver failure and passed away, their dad disappeared, and the kids were placed in foster care permanently.
Hamlin took his mother’s passing as motivation in school. He was introduced to track and field, which positively boosted his performance in class.
“I started focusing on school. I noticed the harder I worked on the track, the easier the classroom got,” Hamlin told the university. “It was an outlet. It gave me the discipline to stay focused and make the goals.”
Hamlin applied to college and was admitted at Cal Poly Pomona, where he majored in kinesiology.
“Anatomy was my favorite class in high school. After an extensive chat with my coach, physical therapy was the profession I set sights on,” he said.
“There is nothing more rewarding than helping someone else.”
Hamlin performed exceptionally, graduating with honors. On average, less that 3 percent of children from foster care homes graduate with advanced degrees, according to National Foster Youth Institute.
Fortunately, Hamlin was awarded the Chafee and Pell grants to complete school without debt.
He has his sights on offering assistance to people in need, having experienced such hardship as a child, now hoping to enter physical therapy as his chosen field.
“No one should have to go through anything close to what I have gone through,” he said. “I want to give back to the foster home programs. I wouldn’t be where I am at if it were not for their contributions and acts of kindness.”
Hamlin will enter UCA’s Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy in the fall.