California State University East Bay student Brenda Brown isn’t like your typical college graduate.
Brenda was laid off in 2008 and ran out of vital unemployment funds two years later on top of also losing her apartment. While she’s a college graduate in June 2017, it took getting over a lot of obstacles to get where she is today.
While many may have given up in the face of struggle and hard times, Brenda didn’t. “I figured, well if I’m going to struggle, I’m going to struggle doing it in school,” Brenda says. “Not making $10 an hour.”
It was that determination that led her to enroll in Cal State East Bay. While attending the college, Brenda rented rooms or stayed with friends. It worked out for a while, but last year, Brenda ran out of people to ask.
That’s when Brenda started living in her car in parking lots around her campus. She did that for over two months until she felt like it was about time to ask her school for assistance.
Luckily for Brenda, Cal State East Bay had just created its Hope Program that helps low-income students. The program includes a free food pantry and helped Brenda find housing with an employee on campus.
“Brenda was one of our first students that came to us who had enough courage to say, ‘I’m not afraid to tell my story.’,” says Alex Baker, the Case Management Coordinator for the college.
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