How one resident at Big Sister League of San Diego went from being a high school dropout to a bachelor’s degree holder while living at our nonprofit
“They say a mind is a terrible thing to go to waste.”
That’s been in the back of *Glory’s own mind for some time—ever since she dropped out of high school. About a decade later, she earned her GED, and then at 50 years old her associate’s degree. Next month, the 60-year-old will walk across the stage at University of North Texas to receive her bachelor’s degree. She’ll even be donning cords for the honor society she’s a part of (one for students with disabilities).
It’s been a long journey to get to this point, which explains why you can almost hear a smile on her face even on the other end of a phone call.
“I already sent my graduation invitations out, about 50. I have a lot of friends in Texas. I lived there for 10 years,” she says. That’s where her life took a turn, by no means of her accord.
Her body buckled on her, beginning with a stroke, followed by onsets of vertigo, anxiety, high blood pressure, and eventually depression. Her condition was so extreme that she had to put a pin her studies and instead focus on her health.
“I used to sleep 18 hours a day. I ended up on Xanax but it was not working. I had panic attacks. I didn’t know how to control them. I stopped going to church. I isolated myself from my friends.”
Ultimately, she uprooted herself and went to live with a sister back in the Midwest.
“I could not drive when I got there. I was scared to go outside, because I thought if I was walking I was going to die. So I stayed in the house.”
Then Glory’s daughter in San Diego opened her home to Glory. But the big transitions compounded with her new condition brought her to a dark place. She’d even considered suicide—on Christmas day. What got her through it was her faith.
"It was like you don’t see a light. It’s dark. There’s no light. There’s no door. There’s no window. It’s like you’re locked up in a dark place and you cannot see your way out,” she says. “The reason I did not do it is because I know the bible… if I killed myself the enemy would win.“
She had to make a life change once more—this time, to lean on herself—and found solace in Big Sister League of San Diego, moving in in January 2018 and eventually discovering it was more than just a place to pay rent. It was a place staffed with people who care.
“It's never about them. Even if they are having a bad day, it's about me, how to help me get through a bad day, to get through that moment. They are here to help me, to help me get back to me. I’m not 100 percent there. There are good days and bad,” Glory says and reflects, “But if it weren’t for BSL, I would be living on the streets.”
The nonprofit also provided her the life stability to be able to return to school, after receiving disability and being qualified for a program that would cover the expenses to finish her education. All that remained were two courses and an internship before Glory could earn her rehabilitation studies degree. She was able to complete them all remotely, finishing what she started in Texas in 2014 all the way from San Diego.
As for what’s next?
“I don’t want to live here forever. I’d like my own room,” she jests, and notes she’s made no plans to move out of BSL just yet. But she does already have another endeavor ahead.
“I got accepted into a Christian ministry program at Point Loma Nazarene University. I’m going to earn my master’s degree.”
A mind not wasted, indeed.
(*Name changed for anonymity)