Cheyenne Anderson, 20, of Vaughn, has set her eye on a goal.
In 2012, she was struggling with school. She was 15 years old. She was being bullied. She was failing science.
Anderson was clinically depressed and “made some bad choices,” she said, attempting suicide twice and winding up in the hospital, and then an inpatient rehabilitation program.
After those experiences, her mother, Mary Jo Anderson, transferred her to Henderson Bay High School.
“I honestly didn’t think she would graduate,” said her sister Cierra, 12.
But Anderson began to apply herself. She said she learned to distance herself from those who were influencing her to make wrong choices. She took on school projects and coordinated events like Family Night, a talent show, Interact Club’s garage sale, a car wash, a fundraiser for charity water for Africa, and Fish food bank’s Christmas party. For her senior project, she selected the topic of suicide awareness and prevention.
“I got to go and speak at the state capital on behalf of Communities In Schools,” Anderson said. “Now I am being offered an internship in grant writing and funding. After I finish the prerequisites and do the internship, I get a full-ride scholarship at the University of Washington.”
This scholarship covers not only tuition, but also other basic costs like room, board, books, travel and supplies.
Anderson was recognized for her leadership at the Henderson Bay graduation in 2015 with a standing ovation. With a grade-point average of 3.7 and an impressive senior notebook, she received scholarships from the Principals’ Association, the Gig Harbor Kiwanis Club and Peninsula Schools Education Foundation. Her other scholarship awards came from the Gig Harbor Dentists, Angel Guild and former state Rep. Larry Seaquist for a total of nearly $6,000 in financial aid. She is applying that funding to her studies at Olympic College in Bremerton, where she carries 12 credits per quarter.
Anderson’s goal is to earn a master’s degree in social work, where she can continue her suicide awareness training and become a medical social worker to help patients with mental illness. She wants to take CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) training and become a guardian ad litem. She has applied for a Students in Need Grant (SING) and other scholarships to fund her second year of college.
Mary Jo Anderson said, “I’m very proud of her. She’s come a long way. Getting those scholarships was the best thing that could happen to her. Scholarships are very important to these kids, especially out here, because a lot of them come from low-income or one-parent homes. Financial aid only goes so far.”
When Anderson went back to high school after treatment, other students, including some she hardly knew, started opening up to her about their own feelings of depression and worse. Her advice to them: “It gets harder as you get older. Right now will be the easiest time of your life. Don’t give up on yourself. Talk to someone you trust.”