TRAVERSE CITY — Leanza Curtiss, 26, has plans for her future that include a scalpel and a dead body. (Cue the “Law & Order” theme song.)

If her future self were a show character, she’d be the one with the scalpel, slicing autopsies.

“I want to be there working on that body trying to figure out how that person died — give that family answers,” said Curtiss.

Statistics are not friendly to Curtiss on her road to her earning her degree in forensics.

Though she’s currently taking a break, Curtiss is a Northwestern Michigan College junior.

The fact she’s a higher education student at all, places her in the minority as it relates to a significant piece of her childhood — time in the foster care system.

About 40 percent of young people who spend time in foster care graduate from high school. Half of those transition to higher education, and just 3 to 11 percent graduate from college with a degree, according to Fostering Success Michigan, an organization aimed at helping young people in the system complete college.

“The experience of foster care impacts mental health, housing security, financial security, and also most significantly, they lack a really strong network of support,” said Karie Ward,

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