Coming to Lander was a different experience, especially for a new freshman. A mass communication’s major, who wanted to remain nameless, thought that coming to college was going to change her life and she was right.
Growing up in a foster who, this student bounced from home to home. She didn’t have much of a home or stable environment that made her feel safe. There wasn’t much she could do under the legal age to be on her own but she continued to push for success.
Back in 2012, her life was turned upside down when there was an assault that left her feeling like the world didn’t love her. The student was at one of her foster homes when her foster brother took advantage while their foster parents were away. She was under the impression that everything was going to break around her until her foster mother assured her that she was going to be okay.
Although she wasn’t. The young lady went through high school feeling like she wasn’t good enough, that— “life was just this illusion that wasn’t worth dreaming of.” The friends that she thought were going to be there for her, turned their backs and laughed when she had a panic attack from one of the football players rubbing up against her.
Life wasn’t going her way and there wasn’t light at the end of the tunnel. She turned towards self-harm, even putting herself in the hospital more than once. Her case worker stated that if she ended in the hospital again, her foster parents were going to get charged and it would only add more paperwork to his desk. Not caring that this was her life on the line.
It was during her senior year that she met someone that seemed like they cared whether she would live or not. Karen Hilton was a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club that the student was forced to attend. Hilton spoke to the student as if she was a person and not an object, making her feel more on someone’s equal.
Hilton pushed the young teen to push for her dreams, whether she knew what she wanted to do now or not. Hilton gave her a few words that are now tattooed near the student’s clavicle, “Life is only once, don’t let those who don’t matter end it.” Hilton told the teen that she shouldn’t listen to people who weren’t pushing for her to become a better person.
Hilton helped her move past the assault that caused her to shut in and meet new people, that she ended up going to college with. The student said that she owes all her success to Hilton, but to herself as well for finding the courage to know that she matters.
The student graduated this past summer with a 4.7 and chose Lander as her new home. She says that college is a total difference from high school and even though the work is harder, she loves every aspect of it. Now she’s able to share her story with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club back in her hometown and show them that if she was able to do it, so can them.
After graduating Lander, the student says that she plans on becoming a motivational speaker and traveling around the world to show that you can come from a broken home and still show the world you can make it.