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Woman Explains How She Went From Growing Up With Addicts To Graduating From Yale

Photo: @.courtpaige / TikTok

A woman shared how she was able to push against the narrative of her family and secure a good future for herself.

In a TikTok video, Courtney shared that she had been raised in a toxic and tumultuous household, surrounded by family members who weren't fit to care for her or her brother. Instead of falling into the same pitfalls as her family did, Courtney was able to persevere and graduate from an Ivy League school.

Courtney revealed that she had grown up surrounded by a family of addicts.

Courtney began her video by explaining that she had been raised in a part of rural Ohio that was and continues to be affected by the opioid epidemic. "Like many other people in my community, a lot of my family developed substance use disorders, including both my parents."

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She explained that she and her older brother had lived with their parents when she was a baby, but eventually, her parents got divorced. Following the divorce, both she and her brother were put under the care of their father although he wasn't fit to care for them, or himself.



Eventually, her grandparents took them in and ended up raising them as their primary guardians. "Growing up I had to witness and deal with the aftermath of addiction from my parents, my aunts, my uncles, and my community."

Even though her grandparents were stable and the best option for Courtney, she was still exposed to substance abuse because of her grandparents' children who would come around. 

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Despite her rocky home life, Courtney expressed a deep love of school and learning.

"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 said, adding that it was hard due to the lack of funding in schools in her area.

Determined to succeed, during her freshman year of high school, Courtney applied for a federally-funded program that primarily served first-generation low-income students to help them attend colleges and universities.

"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," she continued. It was during that time that Courtney learned that most schools will give out merit-based scholarships to high school applicants, which solidified that Courtney wanted to attend school for free.

"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," Courtney recalled. 

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She eventually received a letter in the mail from Yale encouraging her to apply.

During her senior year, Courtney shared that she had gotten a letter from the admissions office at Yale, which informed her that it was free to attend their school if her family wasn't making enough money to qualify for the tuition.

"I decided it was worth a shot, so I applied," she said, adding that in her town, it was highly abnormal for high school students to apply to both Ivy Leagues and other 4-year universities because of how low-income most people are.

After getting her acceptance letter from Yale, Courtney made up her mind that she would be attending the prestigious school. Four years later, Courtney graduated and obtained her degree.

"I feel incredibly lucky to have had all the opportunities I had at Yale, and to graduate debt free," she insisted. Courtney explained that she graduated a little over two years ago, and now works in Washington D.C.

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Despite how drastically her life has turned out compared to her parents and the other people in her community, she acknowledged still feeling impacted by her rough childhood. However, she praised herself for having the resilience and strength to make something of herself. 

Courtney's story proves that we are more than the cards we have been given in life. 

By refusing to succumb to circumstances beyond her control, she took the reigns of their own narrative.

Courtney's determination to rise above the struggles of her family and secure a brighter future demonstrates the transformative power of perseverance and the ability to shape one's destiny.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.