I couch surfed for a couple years before I officially became an unaccompanied throwaway teen—that is, a homeless youth. It took awhile for my high school to pick up on what was going on, which is understandable: I was an AP student who got As in classes, the yearbook editor-in-chief, and a member of class council.
My yearbook advisor intervened and brought me to the school social worker, who initially tried to place me in the local homeless shelter. As a 17 year old female, I refused. The shelter was old and located downtown, surrounded by bars and drunkards. Instead, he pulled strings to get me into a program for homeless young adults. The program set you up in an apartment and gave you a weekly gift card to Hannaford’s for groceries. They let me participate—despite being too young for the program—because it was clear that I was going somewhere.
The program, after I left for Colby, was shut down because their federal funding was discontinued.
As a young woman with no resources and few advocates, some of my experiences from that year were utterly and overwhelming terrifying. At one point, I was threatened with expulsion because I couldn’t prove my residency. Fortunately, the school social worker broke the law and entered a fake address for me in the system. By this point, I was already accepted to Colby on a full scholarship.
I’m a student here now because of a few caring adults and a teacher who helped me pay for standardized testing and college applications. He made sure I applied to Colby College despite the price tag. Without the intervention of all the adults in this brief story, I would not be where I am now even in spite of my academic and personal talents. The homelessness I experienced is just one type of many, and I hope my experience was enough to shed some light on that.