[West Programs] It’s Good to See You Here: Leah's Story

Monday, June 01, 2015

PCC-Leah-Grad-SpeechTan yahee ya hey – in the Lakota language means, “It’s good to see you here.”

Leah was 14 when she ended up on the streets, sleeping beside a friend beneath the marquee of an abandoned movie theater. Thrown out of her house and a future of using drugs, drinking, and moving from place to place—uncertain and scared, Leah decided she needed help. Education was her way home.

Gateway to College gave Leah the tools and resources she needed to take control. After earning her second associates degree, she was voted president of her class, graduation speaker. Leah soon transferred to a four year university and earned her Bachelors.

Leah’s advice for students like her?

“Don’t be hard on yourself. This is really, really hard—to change. To ignore all the behaviors and habits you’ve learned. Remember that everybody falls. Everybody’s who has struggled; you will fall too. But the people who will make it are those who can pick themselves up. You have to decide. Do you want this for yourself?

“Sometimes you have to bear up. You have to decide how you want your life to be—what is and isn’t good for you. But it’s always your choice. What do you want in your life? No one can change things for you. But know that you have the strength, courage, and motivation. You just have to tap into that. Hold onto what you know is best for yourself. Keep going.”

Today, Leah is married and gives back every day as a development associate for an environmental nonprofit in Portland, Oregon.

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