It hasn't been easy, but Lacy Olivarez has overcome more odds than any fresh high school graduate should have to.
Lacy graduated last year from Camden Fairview High School, but before that, she experienced myriad challenges, from abuse to homelessness.
Now, she's just completed her first year at Southern Arkansas University and is currently a best-seller on Amazon.
She has picked up the pieces of her past life -- which includes poverty, loss of family members, poor health and abandonment -- and put them into a self published book of poetry called "Seasons," which has been a number one on Amazon in its own category.
The book is more than 70 pages and contains a series of more than 40 poems based on her story and journey through poverty to being adopted as an older foster child, and, eventually, overcoming.
"I just figured out one day that I wanted to write a book," Olivarez said , "because I wanted to tell my story and I didn't want anything like what happened to me to happen to anybody else."
Not only is the book her life story to share to others who may be going through similar life traumas; it is also an expression to herself.
"I wanted to be free of everything," she said. "Be free of all my pain and all my suffering and to just know it's, like, a process of forgiving myself as well as forgiving my parents and family."
Olivarez began writing poetry at a young age to escape the harsh reality of her life. She said she was born to drug addicted parents on Sept. 20, 2003 in Jasper, Texas. As she grew up, her family traveled to seven different states looking to make ends meet, including Idaho, Louisiana and Texas.
At 12-years-old, her father and middle brother, who had autism, used a wheelchair and was blind were both killed in house fire.
After one week of being homeless, her oldest brother left the family and her mom found a boyfriend, who let the family stay in a camper with no hot water. During this portion of her life, she had to go to school alone while her mother and her boyfriend consistently used drugs and alcohol, Lacy said.
As Lacy entered in high school, her mother moved the family to Camden, where they would continue live under poverty. In March 2019, her mother's boyfriend kicked her out of the house.
Eventually, her mother was arrested, and Lacy was put into foster care.
Her luck and her life changed as she found friends in Camden in 2020. She was taken in by her friend's family, the Olivarez's, in May of 2022 and was officially adopted by the family on December 2, 2020. In just a few short years, Lacy gained a loving and supportive family that included four close sisters.
Her family supported her as she tried to make up for lost time in education, health and her writing to share her tragic story. During her last two year of high school, she learned about journalism. She even wrote columns for the Camden News about her life and experiences at Camden Fairview.
Her determination to tell her story only grew when she enrolled at SAU.
In only her first year at college, Olivarez, a mass communications major, has taken more opportunities to speak out about her life before foster care. Places she has spoken include teacher's conventions, SAU's open mic night and The CALL Arkansas, which is the Christian organization that helped connect her to a foster family.
Olivarez even competed in the Miss SAU pageant this school year to create a more prominent voice for herself. She was voted Miss Congeniality.
"I went out for Miss SAU and I'm going do it again," Olivarez said. "My campaign is for the adoption of older foster children because I was an older foster child who had a chance, but most people don't get that."
She went on to talk more about her book.
"I wrote that book afterwards, just wanting to do more with speaking and wanting to do more with motivating people to not only adopt older foster children, but to also be more aware of what's going on, because a lot of people just -- they knew, but they didn't do anything about it. They were like bystanders," she said.
She choose to express her feelings in a creative way through poetry as opposed to writing more directly about the struggles.
"I've tried so many times to write like down," Olivarez said, "but it puts me into such a terrible headspace and with poetry, I can just get all of my feelings out without really think thinking too hard about it."
Olivarez said she is thankful to her family for their support.
"They treat me so well and they are different culture too, with being Mexican. Completely different culture and it's so beautiful and they took me in and they treat me like I'm their actual daughter even though, like, I wasn't born with them," she said.
Olivarez is the third member of the Olivarez family to attend SAU, with her older sister also currently enrolled. Lacy's younger sister Julissa Olivarez, who was the 2023 CFHS valedictorian, is set to enroll at SAU in the fall.
Lacy said she plans to go further with her story as she gains more knowledge and experience in college. Olivarez has always had a voice, but with poetry and public speaking, she is becoming more accepting of her struggles in order to thrive.