In tenth grade, Stephanie was unhappy; she was dissatisfied with her friends and doing poorly in class. She decided to drop out of school and move to Hollywood to become an actress. Her mother did not take the news well. “It turned into a very volatile argument,” Stephanie remembers. “I left the house for a while.”
Once she was on her own, Stephanie began to think dropping out was a mistake. “It was weird, it was lonely and it was scary,” she says, “because I realized I had just done something that could affect me for the rest of my life.”
After two months, she and her mother settled on a solution: Stephanie would take classes at an alternative high school, with her sights set on going to college. First, she needed to concentrate on her schoolwork. She had not been challenged at her old school, but the new setting made a difference.
“When I started the alternative school, I gained a sense of pride about taking control of my education,” Stephanie says. “I was there because I wanted to be there. I formed relationships with many of my teachers and felt a sense of belonging. School wasn’t such a chore; I enjoyed going and I became really attentive.” By the time she graduated, Stephanie had a 3.3 GPA — good enough to get into a number of colleges.
When it came time to choose a school, she decided to attend a community college her first two years since it was less expensive. Because she'd improved her grades, she received an academic scholarship that covered her tuition. She lived at home with her mother and worked full time to pay for additional expenses like books.
After completing her degree at community college, Stephanie applied to a four-year university that boasted a respected nutrition program. She credits community college with “broadening her horizons,” by helping her to see a greater variety of opportunities and inspiring her interest in nutrition.
About her major, Stephanie says, “It’s the most fascinating thing I’ve ever done. It interests me that people don’t know how they’re fueling their bodies, and I want to help them with that.”