She took matters into her own hands and applied for a federally funded program that served low-income students to help them attend college.
When one is born into or grows up amidst a rough and unsupportive environment, it gets challenging to navigate through who and what they'll grow up to be. One woman shares how she defied the odds and built a life she is proud of despite coming from an unhelpful atmosphere. Courtney—who goes by @.courtpaige—revealed in a TikTok video that she was raised in a toxic and tumultuous household, surrounded by family members unfit to care for her or her brother.
Instead of following in her family's footsteps, Courtney was able to persevere and graduate from an Ivy League school, inspiring many others. The video was captioned, "This is my first storytime grwm (get ready with me), so bear with me!!" while the overlay text read, "Life story: Appalachia to Yale. From addict family to graduating from Yale." The video clip procured more than 980 thousand views.
Courtney began the video by explaining that she grew up in a rural Ohio area that has been and continues to be affected by the opioid epidemic. She revealed that she had grown up in a family suffering from addiction. "Like many other people in my community, a lot of my family developed substance use disorders, including both my parents," she stated.
When she was a baby, she and her older brother lived with their parents, but her parents eventually got divorced. After the divorce, her father took her and her brother into his care, even though he was unfit to care for himself or them. Thereafter, her grandparents took them in and raised them as their primary guardians. Despite her grandparents being stable and the best option for Courtney, she was still exposed to substance abuse due to her relatives who would visit. "Growing up, I had to witness and deal with the aftermath of addiction from my parents, my aunts, my uncles and my community."
Adding that there was a lack of funding in schools in her area, she shared, "I didn't want to fall into the same cycle of addiction and poverty as my parents, so I took advantage of everything I could and was determined to succeed." Courtney was determined to succeed, took matters into her own hands and applied for a federally funded program that primarily served first-generation low-income students to help them attend colleges and universities during their freshman year of high school.
"Each summer, I spent six weeks living at a local college [and] learning about what I needed to do to apply for college, visiting colleges, and attending classes. I put a lot of effort into studying for the ACT, keeping my grades high, and taking classes at the local college to be competitive for scholarships," she continued.
During that time, Courtney discovered that most schools award merit-based scholarships to high school applicants, cementing her desire to attend school for free. During her senior year, Courtney revealed that she had received a letter from Yale informing her that it was free to attend their school if her family did not make enough money to qualify for tuition. "I decided it was worth a shot, so I applied," she recalled.
Also, she disclosed that because most people in her town are low-income, it is extremely unusual for high school students to apply to both Ivy Leagues and other four-year universities. After receiving her acceptance letter from Yale, Courtney decided she would attend the prestigious school. Courtney graduated and received her degree four years later.
Courtney stated that she graduated a little more than two years ago and currently works in Washington, D.C. "I feel incredibly lucky to have had all the opportunities I had at Yale and to graduate debt free," she expressed. Despite how different her life has turned out from that of her parents and others in her community, she admitted to still being affected by her difficult childhood. She praised herself, however, for having the resilience and strength to make something of herself from almost nothing.
People in the comment section praised her and were filled with admiration. "Wow! This was such a beautiful story. I'm sorry you weren't dealt the best life cards, but you did that," commented @imanikayeye. "Thank you for sharing. Inspiring angel girl" added @piabaroncini. Sometimes there is hope, and sometimes we can seek it.