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Shannon and Sharron Bowens
Shannon and Sharron Bowens achieve high academic success and blaze an inspiring trail
By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
There are times when life takes a turn and leaves you standing on the curb. In times like that, choices are made that can set the course for the rest of your life. The Bowens twins have experienced their turns in the road. It’s through personal motivation and the lessons instilled in them by their late parents that they have achieved greatness.
Shannon and Sharron both grew up in Los Angeles. The girls were born one minute apart from each other with Shannon being the eldest. They were two sisters who were a product of a happy home. Unfortunately, the twins would lose both their parents within the span of four years.
“I lived with my dad until I was 10, and he passed away due to a heart attack in 2004,” said Sharron. Their mother would then pass away in 2008 from a stroke. The twins would live with various family members, eventually staying with their aunt. This arrangement took a turn for the worse and caused child services to get involved.
“We had a temporary [emergency] social worker, so we called her,” said Sharron. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) stepped in and was able to help the twins get back on track. They were placed with foster parent, Carolyn Alexander, and now live in Gardena.
There are times when siblings are split up in the foster care system. Sharron expressed her relief that she and her sister were able to stay together. "Thankfully, Ms. Alexander had two open spaces in her home, so we got to stay together," said Sharron. "We haven't moved from foster home to foster home; it's always been one."
The Bowens twins didn't let the rug being pulled out from under them stop them. They continued focusing on the future and as a result have accomplished academic successes. They both recently graduated with honors from Animo South Los Angeles Charter High School.
Shannon graduated with a 4.09 cumulative GPA, and Sharron graduated with a 4.06 cumulative GPA. They were the only students to graduate with principal's honors. Shannon ranked number three in her class and has been accepted to many colleges and universities.
The Bowens twins were recently a part of the DCFS "22nd Annual Celebration 2011: Honoring the Academic Achievements of Foster Youth," where they, along with over 100 youth, received more than $700,000 in scholarships. They also received Enrichment Plus Awards at the L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, June 21, with Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
The twins did have their struggles as they made their transition into the foster care system. "It feels like you're on your own," said Shannon. She stated that it felt like she had to grow up faster than usual. Shannon also spoke on how her father instilled in them to reach higher. "Our dad instilled that [a] "B" just means you can do better—education is always number one."
Sharron also added how their father stressed the importance of getting an education. "He always checked our homework … we got mostly A's and B's—it's always been important," said Sharron. After her parents’ passing, she stated that the drive to achieve stayed strong. "I felt like, we have to work harder…and do what they [their parents] would have wanted us to do."
Dominique Robinson, Office of Public Affairs, DCFS , wanted the Bowens' story to be told and for their triumphs to be recognized. Robinson stated:
"I am very grateful and excited to provide this opportunity to these [young ladies]. [They] have established themselves as positive role models for other youth, especially African American youth in our child welfare system."
Sharron will be starting Cal State Long Beach in the fall, where she plans either to go into healthcare administration and/or possibly pursue nursing. Shannon will be starting UCLA this summer and plans to study business economics.
Shannon and Sharron's advice to teens, whether in foster care or not, is simple. "Push through it; see where you want yourself … in about 10 years," said Sharron. "Stay positive and continue working hard because it will pay off."
Shannon wanted youth to know that "they could achieve if they can ask for the help that they need. Every problem has an answer and all they have to do is find that answer. Keep pushing and never give up."