‘I Know Personally What a Life Without Education Looks Like’

By Vanessa, Treehouse Class of 2017 Grad

I come from a family that has struggles. I am of Haitian descent and have six siblings in addition to being a twin. At the age of 14, I realized I was not an ordinary teenager. I was not able to participate in all the social events normal to teenagers because I had bigger responsibilities at home than most.  In order to fulfil my obligations, I had to work. I worked to help pay the bills around the house and provide clothing and food for my siblings. Even though my mother was unable to provide the amount of care and support my siblings and I needed, she always managed to do what she could.

Throughout my school years, I have had an Individual Education Plan (IEP). The program is designed to support students who need extra assistance with both academics and behavioral problems. Initially, I had the IEP because of ADHD. The focus was on academic assistance as I got older and fell behind most of my peers. Being on an IEP required me to work twice as hard as other students, and at times, the challenges I faced and the ridicule from my peers would get me depressed and stressed. My older cousin always told me not to give up and to use what others say as motivation to push myself harder. Despite struggling, I realized I needed to go to college. I know personally what a life without education looks like. I grew up watching my mother combat life, and I knew I wanted more than that. I wanted to study a field where I was able to help people, and nursing was the answer after participating in the University of Washington’s Nurse Camp.

Growing up, I have had so many obstacles to overcome. Those challenges helped me become a diligent, determined, independent and hard-working Haitian woman. What I hope to accomplish in the future is to attend Concordia University in Portland and graduate with a BSN in nursing. We do not have unlimited chances to obtain the things we want in life and must use every opportunity given to us to reach our goals. It is said that the sky’s the limit, but I want to reach as far as the moon to make my dreams come true. In my opinion, there is not anything worse than missing opportunities that could impact our lives in a significant way.

A note from Vanessa’s Education Specialist, Emma Dixon:

Since I met Vanessa, it’s been incredible to see all she has accomplished. She has worked with Treehouse for several years, as well as some incredible in-school resources to help her prepare for graduation and college. It’s been exciting seeing her journey toward beginning college this fall. We’ve talked about everything from required classes to meeting new roommates. This semester, Vanessa has completed her graduation requirements, strived for a high GPA and been awarded several scholarships to help her achieve her dream of going to Concordia University. I am excited to see what the future holds as she navigates her first year of college and keeps working hard to become a nurse!

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About the Author

Vanessa is one of 600+ youth in the Treehouse Graduation Success program. 


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