Nachas from a student

University of Chicago student Ashley Lepse spent this summer in Washington working on a congressional report seeking ways to improve foster care. Lepse is also drawing on her own life experiences as a ward of the state in the Illinois foster care system.

She knows of what she speaks:

She and her siblings were removed from their mother when she was 3 years old. Their first placement in a foster home was traumatic for these fragile children, and they were removed after nine months for abuse and neglect. After a brief emergency placement, the children moved into their final placement a few months later. That couple adopted Lepse and her siblings.

Ashley is one of many people I’ve met over the years who went through the foster care system–and then worked to make these often-troubled systems better.

Have I said that I’m proud of my SSA students yet? They are preparing to do difficult, important work, and they do it well. The class of 2014 will be starting this month. I look forward to their arrival. I do hope Ashley forgives me for that grueling microeconomics class.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

5 thoughts on “Nachas from a student”

  1. Good.

    But I think the title should be “Naches from a student.”

    Naches is the pleasure one derives from the accomplishments of another – usually but not necessarily one’s child. So you get naches from Lepse’s work. (Naches vs. nachas is a matter of taste.)

      1. Thanks for clarifying for us Goyim — I thought you were referring to chips, beans, jalapenos and melted cheese.

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