Aislynn, Class of 2014

As a patient care assistant at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), Aislynn has found ways to leverage her childhood trauma and abuse to make life better for others.

For as long as she can remember Aislynn lived with her grandmother who taught her many things she values, including her faith. Despite seeing her mother and brother regularly and having a good relationship with them, Aislynn never understood why her mother chose to keep her brother and not her.

“When you grow up feeling abandoned and being abused, you have a core disbelief that you cannot do well,” Aislynn says. “You think that if you could do well, all the bad things wouldn’t be happening to you.”

At 15, her personal habits were reckless; her academic career, as well as her health, were at risk.

“It didn’t help that I’ve been in classes where I know the teacher knew I was in trouble but didn’t care,” said Aislynn. “CATS kept me alive. I knew that I had to stay in school to be part of CATS– I knew I couldn’t skip that test and I couldn’t get an F. You also can’t be reckless with your life when you go to CATS. They care too much; they’ll notice.”

Despite feeling safe at CATS, Aislynn didn’t share what she was going through with anyone there. They’d ask how she was doing, offer to talk, to let them know if she needed anything and she would simply answer that she was all right.

“I was good at distancing, being funny,” says Aislynn. “When you live in chaos and you find peace, you don’t want to bring the chaos into the peace.”

However, the care CATS provided was enough to keep her going and soon she was discovering her interests and talents and was gaining confidence. When Mr. Ryan put a camera in her hands for the first time, she started to see things differently.

“I began to see the beauty in everything– in crevices, roses growing out of concrete. CATS taught me to believe in myself, gave me something to latch onto.”

Her senior year, Aislynn started the Bridging the Gap program and following graduation, started her job at CCHMC. Sometimes, Aislynn shares her stories with her young patients and aspires to write her memoirs and become a motivational speaker.

“If you don’t shine light on your scary places, then you can’t help children who are in their own scary places figure a way out,” she says. “I know my purpose: to heal through my hands, and also through my gift to tell my story.”