I grew up 3 hours outside of Pittsburgh,
with my mother and 3 younger siblings.
My mom was a single mother
and worked a minimum wage job,
so we never had much,
but that was OK,
we made ends meet anyhow.
Freshman year of High School
I got a job at a local bakery
and immediately started saving money for college.
I was accepted into the University of Pittsburgh
and received some academic scholarships that covered my tuition.
Room and board were not covered
so I opted to pay for the meal plan but not the housing
because it was way too expensive for me.
Whenever it was time to head out for college
I scrapped all of the back row seating in my caravan(the old caravan seats were removable)
and I purchased a twin mattress
and laid it on the floor of my van,
I also saved enough money to have my windows tinted.
I purchased a parking pass on campus,
chose a spot on the top level of the parking garage
and lived out of my van for the next 2 years.
Like I said, this was the best thing to ever happen to me,
The weather in Pittsburgh was bad.
Super hot and humid in the summer time
and freezing cold and snowy in the winter time.
That being said,
being homeless forced me to take advantage of everything the campus had to offer
since I wanted to spend as little time in my van as possible.
I ended up spending most of my time throughout the week at the library
and consequentially ended up studying and reviewing classroom material a lot more than I would have
if I had the luxury of going home and turning on the TV or falling asleep for hours in my room.
I frequented my professors office hours.
I ended up getting really close to some of my professors
because of this,
and it really helped me excel in the classroom.
I attended a lot of social events,
guest speakers, plays, charities, student life events around campus too
and this was really good for me
because I ended up meeting a lot of new friends by attending all these things.
Prior to college I would have considered myself and introvert ,
I didn’t really speak much unless spoken to,
but again not wanting to sit around in my van all day made me venture outside of my comfort zone
and do new things
and I really developed an outgoing personality because of it.
Even after I moved out of the van
I continued to spend hours at the library,
working out everyday,
and I really think that having to deal with the struggles that I had to go through really made me into a better person.
Since then I got a really got job
and have been helping my siblings prepare for life
and I’ve even been able to help my mother out a little bit.
It just feels good :)