Bristol Community College Valedictorian Stunned With Woman of the Year Award From Glamour
Imagine becoming homeless after both of your parents recently passed after a long-term recovery and fighting addiction. You are in your mid-20s, and you are so lost and disconnected that you've also spiraled into becoming a heroin user. You're at such a low point that even your addict friends no longer want to hang out with you.
Katie Haley doesn't have to imagine. She was there three short years ago. Here's how she turned her life around. If you are in search of inspiration, you've just found it.
Listen to Michael and Maddie's Interview with Katie Haley
Hard Work Pays Off
Katie Haley went from battling homelessness and heroin to becoming BCC's valedictorian this spring, but that's just the beginning. Haley parlayed her 4.0 GPA into a scholarship to the Ivy League. In addition to applying to UMass Amherst, Haley's guidance counselor encouraged her to apply to some"reach schools," and the gamble paid off. The former Friendly's Dartmouth waitress will attend Brown University this fall with the hopes of one day becoming a psychology professor.
The Fall River resident also just found out that she has been named Glamour's Community College Woman of the Year.
How Did Katie Haley Find Out She Was Named Woman of the Year?
Haley expected to join a Zoom meeting with Glamour's Editor in Chief. Instead, she was surprised by the First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, who delivered the news to her about being named Woman of the Year. Comically, the experience wasn't easy. "Two minutes before I was supposed to connect for the Zoom, my internet died," Haley said. "I was panic texting the people at Glamour."
What Does Katie Haley Say to People Struggling with Addiction?
"I live in downtown Fall River. I see a lot of addiction," she said. "I want to take them all in and help them. But I know that never worked for me. People shaking me and saying 'you need to get this.' Both my parents had long-term recovery, they did that with me a few times, but that's not how it works. You've got to want it. I had to want it."
How Will Katie Haley Spend the Rest of Her Summer?
Haley now works at the Blue Plate Diner in Middletown, Rhode Island. She loves it because she is steps from the beach, and she likes that they serve healthy food. She continues to live in Fall River and will commute to Brown. "I'm 29 years old! I'm too old to room with a 19-year old-kid!" she laughed.