Did you hear about the rose that grew from concrete?
My name is Brittknee Kristin. On Sunday May 5th, I graduated with my Bachelors in Counseling Psychology. This degree has been 10 years in the making and the journey hasn’t been an easy one. In May 2009, I graduated from Mardela Middle and High with 15 college credits. I didn’t really have a plan for my future. I was really happy to have a high school diploma. I had a rocky adolescents and no one expected me to graduate. My grandmother made me go to college. I applied to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) about three weeks before the first day of the semester. I’m happy she pushed me to go to college. It was there that my journey to wellness began. In the fall 2009, I started at the UMES. I joined every club I could such as SGA, Gospel Choir, Drama Society, Hollering Hawks, and attempted to join a sorority. Joining clubs helped to keep me busy and avoid what was really going on. My mental health was slowly getting worse and a breakdown was quickly approaching. In March 2011, my feelings finally caught up with me. I could no longer ignore them. I tried to kill myself while living on campus. Because everyone knew me this was a very public breakdown. This resulted in me getting kicked out of school because I was considered a danger to myself and others.
In October 2011, I decided to seek help for my mental health. I was skeptical because I spent most of my teenage years in and out of treatment centers that didn’t help. My therapist and I decided that I needed to go to a hospital for better treatment. I was admitted to Shepherd Pratt Hospital and I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from years of childhood physical and sexual abuse. Finally, everything made sense to me. I eventually began to feel better and decided to go back to school. In the fall 2013, after two years of treatment and with a newfound passion for human service, I transferred to Bowie State University because UMES didn’t offer a psychology major. In the fall of 2014, I was kicked out of school again because of my low GPA. I thought I was ready to go back to school but I was wrong. I never went to class. I only went to my theater classes since I was a theater minor. Theater was an outlet for me. I could embrace the character of someone else and ignore what was going on inside of me.
In August of 2015, I entered into a therapy day program at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington. This program is similar to being on an inpatient unit but you can go home everyday and use the skills you learned while at the program in your everyday life. It was there that I was joined by other survivors of sexual assault who were all attempting to heal from their past and make a better life in their present. While in the program, I also discovered the power of art therapy. As a child, I was put in so many treatment programs but it did not help. I was unable to put words to my experiences but art therapy allowed me to do that. I didn’t have to use my words; I let my art speak for me.
In December 2017, I did an adult thing and moved into my own apartment. While moving in I drove passed Washington Adventist University. I never heard of this college but I decided to apply because it was walking distance from my apartment. My car was not reliable so I had a hard time getting to Bowie State University and I was determined to be successful. In Spring 2018, I received my acceptance letter to Washington Adventist University. I walked to school, registered for classes and I was a student again.
In Fall 2018, I was out of financial aid. I only had one more semester worth of aid left. But I had about 40 credits left to graduate. So I had to squeeze three semesters into two. I had to pay out of pocket because financial aid would only cover 18 credits per semester. This meant I had to take classes at Montgomery Community College to stay on track to graduate in May 2019 and I had to pay about $6200 out-of-pocket. But I was determined to do it. I started a GoFundMe. My amazing followers helped me get my balance down from $6200 to a little over $1000. The administration at the school saw how much effort I put into getting my balance down. They approved me to graduate even though I have a balance. I still have to pay it in order to get my physical diploma. But I know that will work out. Oh and did I mention I was homeless for two months this semester? That’s a different story for another day. But it was another obstacle that I had to deal with while taking nine classes, working overnight and growing a business.
What's the moral of the story? My journey has not been an easy one. There have been so many ups and downs and I had a hard time finding my way. But I never gave up on myself. And neither should you. I am the definition of cute, confident, unapologetic, tenacious and extraordinary! All praises belong to God. He knew all along the plans he had for me.