My Journey to Recovery and Graduation

By Ish, Freshman at Highline College

When I was twelve years old, tragedy struck my family and I lost both of my parents. I entered foster care and moved in with my grandmother in Seattle. All the kids in my new neighborhood were really into sports, so to make friends I decided to join a local football team. I got connected to Treehouse and they paid for all my gear and cleats.

Even though I was playing sports and building a community, I was really angry about my circumstances. I felt like life dealt me the wrong cards. This anger made it hard to hit the books. I started getting into trouble and hanging out with the wrong crowd. It was too much for my grandma to handle, so I moved to different foster care placements. I moved about 20 times in six years.

Treehouse provided opportunities for me to stay out of trouble, like sending me to summer camp. In high school, they paid for me to be on the basketball team which kept me out of gang activity. I loved being on the team, but I still felt overwhelmed by the trauma of my past. My freshman year, I began abusing drugs and alcohol. My Treehouse Education Specialist, Lexa, was there for me and encouraged me to do better, but I didn’t really take advantage of that support until I hit rock bottom in the summer of 2015.

At 18, I had been kicked out of school, was homeless and completely miserable. I reached out to Lexa and told her that it was time to clean up. Lexa met with me at Starbucks and asked me what my one-year goal was. I told her that I wanted to get sober and to graduate. I said it out loud, but I didn’t actually think it was possible.  I only had nine of the twenty high school credits I’d need to graduate in June.

She told me it wasn’t going to be easy but that I could do it. She helped me enroll in a school that focused on recovery and met with me every week to make sure I stayed on track. I studied hard and stayed focused, and earned my diploma that June.

Now, I’m coming up on two years sober. I’m enrolled in Highline Community College studying chemical dependency to eventually become a counselor and help kids who were in my same situation. When I think of Treehouse, I think of hope. Treehouse didn’t give up on me, even when I didn’t have any faith in myself. I’m amazed at how far I’ve come and what I’ll do next.

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About the Author

Ish is a artist and student at Highline College studying to become a chemical dependency counselor.

Comments (2)

Penny Vederoff

May 9, 2017

Way to go Ish! Glad upyou are in school and formally studying to be a counselor. You may not realize it but every day you stay clean and work towards your goals, you are already a counselor of sorts. You are a counselor of example. In life, for many people, that is the most powerful agent of change. Keep heading toward your positive goals and, if you ever need a place to go for the holidays, just let our family know. Our doors will be open to you.


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