Waterford senior Isabella Bass-Wright is 'the definition of resiliency'
Waterford — Isabella "Izzy" Bass-Wright has gone through an incredible amount of transition in the last four years and now she faces another transition: graduating high school.
Bass-Wright, 18, is a senior at Waterford High School who was placed in the foster care system at age 14. Now at her third foster home and high school, she feels good about where she is at, advocating for mental health awareness even as she struggles with it herself.
She entered the foster care system after family troubles caused her to be removed, alongside two of her siblings, from her mother, coming from a home of nine children. Before landing here, she went to different shelters and residentials, moving from school to school. She said it was "difficult because it meant meeting new people every time, but you kind of get accustomed to it."
Bass-Wright said she has anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"They don't go away overnight," she said. "Once you get them to go away, you prepare yourself for when they come back."
"Isabella Bass-Wright is the definition of resiliency," said her school counselor, Jason Alder. Moving into the school district for her senior year, Bass-Wright has made a tremendous amount of growth and impact in one year, he said.
"Through dealing with her own mental concerns and because she has been so mature, she is able to give to others who are dealing with mental health issues," Alder said. He said he might be biased but he thinks Bass-Wright would do good in his field, especially to help young people who aren't verbal about their issues.
Because of the mental health issues she has faced, Bass-Wright said she never knew how long she would stay in one place, or if her foster parents would involve themselves in helping her in the right way. She said she is in one of the best placements and reunited with her 16-year-old brother in the same home.
Bass-Wright said her foster dads, David Sanz-Rovira and Byron Tilley-Rovira, are very nice and caring. "They really put their time into taking care of us, making us happy and spending time with us," she said.
In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness month, Bass-Wright was selected by a school social worker to place posters all around the school with phrases such as: "You are allowed to be proud of yourself," "It's okay to ask for help," and "Mental health matters."
"I liked helping bring peoples' moods up," Bass-Wright said. "And also bringing awareness to people and letting them know that they aren't alone, to not be afraid to ask for help."
Bass-Wright also voiced concerns that mental health resources for children in the foster care system have "dried up," seeing fewer safe homes with therapy. Bass-Wright said safe homes with therapy helped give her a safe place to stay and go to therapy while looking for a placement that would fit her best.
"Going through the therapy with the family you're getting placed with is really helpful for them to know how to help you and to learn how to interact with the family," she said.
During her time at Waterford High, Bass-Wright also has proven to be prolific in art, one of her favorite things to do. Her art teacher Shelly Concascia said Bass-Wright has made a name for herself in her short time at the school, adding she has a quiet but outgoing personality and her sense of humor shines through.
"Her creative mind never ceases to amaze me and her attention to detail within her artwork is truly incredible," Concascia said. "I love to watch her ideas pick up speed and snowball into her beautifully developed projects. She will take any ordinary subject and find a way to make it personally meaningful, creative and uniquely her own."
Bass-Wright said she has always liked art. "Art therapy is the best because it's easier to talk when your hands are moving and doing something else," she said.
As for her future, Bass-Wright said she wants to work with children in prekindergarten through second grade. She said she helped raise her sister's kids and loves kids, finding them fun to be around.
Now that she's 18, Bass-Wright can opt out of the foster care system anytime she wants but she has decided to stay for the wide variety of programs and support services, such as helping pay for college, offered to foster care children in the state. She has so far been accepted to Mitchell College in New London and Eastern Connecticut State University in Windham.
However, Bass-Wright, a high-honor student, is undecided at the moment about whether she'll go to college or straight into the workforce. She said what makes the decision hard is class sizes and public speaking.
"My anxiety can get in the way of classes and speaking in front of people," she said.
Whether college works out or not, Bass-Wright said she is sure she'll find a job that fits her well.