Student making a difference

From foster care to an internship in Washington, D.C.

Frequently moving and going into foster care at age 15 isn’t the most ideal way to grow up.

Ferris criminal justice junior Kaylia Ervin used this experience to fuel her motivation to succeed.

Ervin was one of 12 students selected out of about 60 applicants for an internship with The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in Washington, D.C.

“When my coordinator first told me of this internship opportunity. I thought it would be amazing to work closely with people so powerful in our nation,” Ervin said.

Ervin aims to get to the root of change by learning the process of passing bills and legislation that will help our youth.

According to Ervin, the goal of the internship is to devise a presentation containing both researched factual knowledge and personal experience to present to Congress on behalf of foster youth around the nation.

Ervin spent 11 years of her youth in the Bronx, Brookyn, California and Muskegon.

At fifteen, Ervin went into foster care in Muskegon.

“Being ripped from your family is always something that scars you and it’s hard to understand when you’re younger,” Ervin said. “However, I had wonderful foster parents.”

Ervin still maintains a close relationship with her biological siblings and mother, often visiting them during breaks.

“The one thing I took from this experience is that I am stronger than I give myself credit for,” Ervin said. “It toughened me up for the real world.”

Ferris junior criminal justice major Savannah Sims has known Kaylia for three years and said they are more like sisters.

“[Kaylia is] very goal driven and inspires anyone she’s around,” Sims said. “She gives from the heart without expecting anything back.”

Turning to faith became a big factor in getting Ervin through each day.

“Being a Christian and trying to maintain a relationship with God has given me peace,” she said.

In addition to her faith, Ervin also finds passion in finding answers and solving mysteries.

“My passion for mysteries made me want to pursue a career in criminal justice,” Ervin said. “I really can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Ervin enjoys listening to situations and interrogations of suspects and criminals in detail to find out the “why” and “how” behind their actions. 

While remaining busy with 19 credits, Ervin works two jobs, is a member of the Ferris Youth Initiative and plays on the women’s rugby team.

While enhancing her professionalism in her college career, Ervin is just like any other fun-loving college student.

“I like to believe I maintain the perfect balance between being sophisticated and downright goofy,” she said.

Ervin graduates next May and plans to attend a dual degree program to earn her J.D. from Cooley and her Master’s in Social Work from Western Michigan University.

“[Kaylia] manages to put away that goofiness, articulate herself and handle the duties given to her in a professional manner,” Ferris junior general studies Vincent Veldink said.