We were so pleased to hear from our student speaker, Tierra, during the recent Seattle Milk Fund Benefit Luncheon. In Tierra’s own words, here is her inspiring story.
I am a fighter! I would not have believed that about myself four years ago. But, as it turns out, I am a fighter. I have been through a lot in my life. And these obstacles have made me stronger.
Before I went back to school, I worked full-time at the mall as a security dispatcher. It was the same routine every day and I did not enjoy what I was doing.
My educational journey began in winter of 2010. I had just been laid off and figured I would go back to school. I started off at Edmonds Community College. I was on the Dean’s list every quarter—I did very well.
In the midst of my education, there was a part of me that was having a very hard time coping with the traumas of my childhood and those issues came out in addiction problems that I had. I took a medical withdrawal and got into treatment.
My daughter stayed with her grandma for three months while I got better. It was the longest we had ever been away from one another. It was so difficult. We missed each other terribly.
I was out of school for two quarters, and when I returned I obtained my Associate Degree. When I went back to school, I knew I wanted to go into Social Work and obtain my Bachelor’s Degree. I had come out on the other side. I was full of hope, joy, and love. I wanted to share that with others.
I applied to Seattle University and was accepted. I had been sober for nearly three years, but had I a bit of a setback. I relapsed. I tried on and off to maintain my sobriety, but was unable.
In December 2013, my stepdad passed away and my mom was diagnosed with early onset dementia. It was in these experiences that I realized, I couldn’t help anyone if I couldn’t help myself. I have always wanted to show my daughter better than I had, and to give her what she needs and wants in a mom. I couldn’t do that while using.
I once again sought help and have been clean and sober, with consistency, for over a year.
In August of 2014 we got notice that we would have to move due to housing politics and receiving housing assistance. We were unable to find housing in Snohomish County and relocated to King County. We were homeless for nearly four months before we got into our own place. It is amazing how much I took for granted, having my own space to study and read and how much my daughter needed the structure. It has definitely been such a blessing to have our own space again and to have a place to call our own!
At the beginning of winter quarter of this year, we lost our childcare because I was unable to afford the cost. I began falling a bit behind in school, which was difficult for me because I am used to getting good grades. I heard about Seattle Milk Fund’s child care grants and decided to apply. The generosity of your organization has given our family the extra lift we needed to make graduation for me a reality. It has also given my daughter an educational opportunity that she would not have had otherwise. Thank you.
I work minimal hours at Bellevue College in my work study position. I am a peer mentor for students that are on the autism spectrum. I work 15 hours a week so that I can perform well in school. Because of the child care grant and family support grant from Seattle Milk Fund, I do not have to worry about child care. I have peace in knowing that my daughter is being taken care of in an in-home daycare (which we both prefer) and can fully focus on finishing up my Bachelor’s degree this fall.
While this last year has been very trying and times, pretty difficult, I have been able to navigate through many obstacles. Every day I have to fight to stay clean and sober and every day that I do, is another day that I can succeed in school, succeed in parenting, succeed at being there for my mom and family and can succeed in being the best version of me! My trials and tribulations also remind me daily of why I want to get my degree in Social Work…. I want others to know there is hope—and what may look dreary and dark, is just the storm before the rainbow.
Once I obtain my Bachelor’s in Social Work, I would like to work for a year or two and go back to school and obtain my Master’s in Social Work. I want to work with children who have experienced traumas in a counseling setting. My ultimate career goal is to own my own practice.
I sincerely thank Seattle Milk Fund for giving my family and families like mine the support and opportunity to go on to bigger and better things through education.