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Onetime scholar, Oakland native overcomes childhood trauma to thrive in business, politics

Onetime scholar, Oakland native overcomes childhood trauma to thrive in business, politics
Onetime scholar, Oakland native overcomes childhood trauma to thrive in business, politics 03:09

OAKLAND – In 2019, the CDC reported that 60 percent of adults have experienced at least one incident of significant childhood trauma. Bianca Yarborough is one of those adults, but she's turning that pain into positive motivation for helping others.

The 37-year-old mother of two is on a mission to share her personal journey as a way to inspire others who are struggling.

"Someone gave me an opportunity, saw something in me," recalled a tearful Yarborough. "It's something that carries me through my hard days."

Yarborough's self-awareness has seen her through some very tough times, both as a child and now as an adult.

"Through those days when I felt like, 'Am I worthy of grace?'" said Yarborough. "Am I worthy of good things happening to me?"

For Yarborough those "good things" include watching her own daughters' thrive in a family home that's much different from the one she grew up in.

"We didn't have running water. We didn't have electricity," recalled Yarborough of her childhood home. "We had rodents and roaches. We didn't always eat. The only meals we had were at school."

Those meals at school were something Yarborough and her siblings looked forward to as they panhandled with their biological parents on a street corner in Berkeley.

"It was all the time," said Yarborough. "We were panhandling from the time we were out of school to late in the evening, on the weekends. It was a cornerstone of my childhood. When you are living in a storm, you just don't understand how bad it is. And then once you are out of it, you can draw back and see the damage."

Yarborough's opportunity to get out of the storm, and begin her healing journey, came when she was placed in foster care.

"I was 11 and a half. It was December 6, 1996," said Yarborough. "I remember the date, the time, what I was doing. I was in a history was 2:30 in the afternoon. They pulled my brother and myself out of class. We drove past the street to go to our house, and it was really the last time I've seen the house."

Yarborough didn't know at the time but she was heading into a future that would include some heartbreak as she was separated from her siblings. But her journey would also include joy and success.

Yarborough was adopted by a kind, loving new mom. Students Rising Above helped her through high school, college and graduate school.

Career opportunities led her to LA, then Chicago where she met her husband, a police officer. And now the social justice movement, and the young people at its center, are calling Yarborough towards a career in public service.

Currently, she serves on a local school council in Chicago, and she's considering a run for another local council position. She's also a small business owner. And she started her own Political Action Committee.

For Yarborough, her big dream is to return to the Bay Area and run for public officer, such as Mayor of Oakland.

"What can I do? I always wake up every morning with, 'What can I do?' With my education? With my networks? With my opportunity?" said Yarborough. "With my voice to help others who cannot do it for themselves."

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