Since HCJFS brought the HEMI program back in-house in 2020, we’ve hired new staff members to work with mentees and mentors. We want to introduce you to the caseworkers who will help grow this important program and help get more teens in foster care through high school and into college, trade school or the military.

Ashley Stamper

Meet Ashley Stamper. She’s our educational programs supervisor. What Ashley does when she’s not at work depends on the season. Now? Basketball. She’s a big University of Kentucky fan.
 
When it warms up, you can find her on a jet ski at Lake Cumberland during the daytime and sitting by a bonfire or playing fetch with her dogs in the evening.
 
“Each year has only two seasons,” she says. “Boating season and basketball season.” 
 
What made you want to work for HEMI and what do you like about it?
I used to tell my parents I was a “forever a student.” I love to learn, and I loved the time I spent in college, learning about myself and learning about all kinds of different disciplines (psychology, sociology, physics, biology, anthropology, etc.) I also love getting the opportunity to inspire students in HEMI every day to develop their own set of goals and find out what their passions are. 
 
What are some examples of successes you’re starting to see?
I love being able to watch our students succeed! I believe in a “1% better” mantra. If we can do 1% better each day in any area, then eventually we’ll build up to where we want to be! It has only been a few months, but we’ve already had students who have completed their first semester of the 2020-2021 school year and who are successfully navigating this “new normal” and virtual learning, etc.! It’s amazing to see such resilience and adaptability in our HEMI student population.
 
If you could go back to high school/college, what would you do differently?
I never ate lunch in high school. I skipped lunch every day and did my math homework at the lunch table while my friends (lovingly) teased me. That is crazy. Lunch is my favorite meal of the day these days. I’d eat three lunches a day, if I could! 
 
If you could give teens one piece of advice, what would it be?
Perfectionism isn’t as good of a “trait” as it seems to be. And your past doesn’t define who you are. 
 

Allie Cohen

Meet Allie Cohen. When she’s not helping a HEMI mentee figure out a scholarship application or weigh college options, she likes to hang out with her husband and their cats. She loves spending time outside and is learning to read tarot cards.

Why do you like working for HEMI?
I wanted to work for HEMI because the program is very proactive and I believe that everyone deserves access to education. HEMI provides extra layers of support to young people who haven’t always had that. I also love the collaborative nature of this program. I think having multiple partners really helps us access needed resources for HEMI participants.
 
What are some examples of success you’re starting to see already?
A few young adults I work with are getting enrolled in programs or taking the necessary steps to start school next year after years away. I’m also seeing how committed mentors are to advocating for their mentees, and what a difference that can make.
 
If you could go back to high school/college, what would you do differently?
I sometimes tell my husband I should have studied to be a veterinarian or Ob/GYN, which is ridiculous because I’m scared of blood and terrible at math and science. I would also definitely participate in more extra-curricular activities on campus.
 
If you could give teens one piece of advice, what would it be?

Trust yourself and hang on to the people in your life who believe in you.

Shaq Stokes

Meet Shaqeia “Shaq” Stokes. When she’s not at work, she likes to work out, play basketball and watch Food Network. She played basketball for Winton Woods High School, St. Francis University and the University of Cincinnati.
 
Why do you like working for HEMI?
I wanted to work with the youth on an individual level, along with getting insight on how I can help them with excelling academically by using my background and knowledge. I love that HEMI is a program that allows the youth the opportunity to receive a free education and achieve personal goals towards education.
 
If you could go back to high school/college, what would you do differently?
If I could go back to college specifically, I would have studied a little bit more instead of socializing.
 
If you could give teens one piece of advice, what would it be?
Advice I would I give kids heading to college is this: don’t just pick an “easy major” in order to have a good GPA. Sit down and really think about what you want to do once you graduate, what career you envision yourself being in.
And if you’re passionate about something or have a goal in mind, don’t let what ANYBODY says stop you from achieving that goal. No matter how far-fetched or crazy the goal may be. Work hard and stay focused and you can achieve all of your goals.