Otani Laster spent her childhood in group and Foster homes with the odds against her. “As a child, I was extensively neglected, didn’t have enough to eat and was abused. My Mother abandoned me when I was seven and I went into the Foster care system.”
At the age of 17, Otani became pregnant. “When I had my son Georgie I felt love for the first time. Soon after, I had an argument with my ex-husband so I tried to leave and got on a bus. There I saw an advertisement for Learn4Life and I thought ‘This was meant to be, I need to go back to school. This is my way out.’ ”
Before she enrolled at Learn4Life, Otani was in survival mode, dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the abuse and trauma she experienced as a child. At the age of 19, Otani had dropped out of school and was way behind in credits. Learn4Life offered her a way out. A way to change her story. “When I would come in to Learn4Life, I felt welcomed, like I belonged there.”
Not only did she graduate high school but she did so with honors and was the commencement speaker at her graduation. She went on to receive the Guardian Scholarship, a full ride scholarship, and an expanded scholarship for her Master’s degree from National University. In March 2018, Otani obtained her Master of Business Administration with a Specialization in International Business from National University.
Otani went from being a high school dropout to a college graduate with a Master’s degree. “I kept moving forward and I beat the odds.”