“I left home when I was 13 and lived on the streets of Seattle. When I was 15, I became pregnant, and staff at a youth center asked me if I wanted to speak to a group of doctoral students studying adolescent pregnancy. That was my first exposure to college education, and I decided back then that one day, that would be me.
When I was 16, I moved to Utah to live with my half-sister. I got my GED and started at Salt Lake Community College. For the next 23 years I had ups and downs of dropping out and losing my financial aid, but I kept coming back.
I tried out several different classes and majors, but when I read the Social Work Code of Ethics, tears streamed down my face. I knew right then, ‘I am a social worker.’ A social worker connected me to my half-sister who took me in when I was pregnant. Another had saved my life when I had a suicide attempt at the age of 11. She asked me why I wanted to end my life, and I realized I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t want to continue to suffer.
I’m now celebrating 15 years of sobriety, recently graduated with my Master of Social Work, and am pursuing my PhD at the U. My life is a testament to how stability and the ability to focus and have basic needs met can really nourish people to succeed and thrive academically. That’s why I’m so excited to be involved in launching the Basic Needs Collective to help provide U students resources related to food security, affordable housing, health insurance, and more.”