We met Esther O’Brien when she was selected to participate in the “Beating the Odds Roadtrip,” a documentary that takes an unflinching look at the socio-economic problems affecting the lives of three young adults, including Esther. Esther’s story is one of resilience. She lived in an abusive household for the first eight years of her life due to her parents’ drug addictions that altered their moods, emotions, and actions. During those years, she endured sexual, emotional, physical, and verbal abuse that only made it harder for her to function as an adolescent.
Due to the intervention of her elementary school teachers, Esther and her brother became foster children for several years until they were eventually adopted into a family with 17 new siblings, many of whom were also adopted. She has grown to love and respect each and every one of them, and now calls them her “forever family.” With many ups and downs along the way, she learned to see the bright side of living again. Her past trauma that once defined her now only make up parts of her story.
With renewed vigor, Esther began to focus on all the schooling she missed as a child. With a lot of hard work and dedication, she was able to not only catch up with her peers academically, but also successfully graduate high school with a 3.5 GPA. Due to her academic success, Esther has now completed one semester of college at the University of Wisconsin -- Stevens Point (UWSP) and hopes to become an educator herself one day. The challenges she has faced have made her stronger,and she’s determined not to let them limit her–or her opportunities.
Esther has come so far, but near-term challenges lie ahead. Like millions of other low-income, minority, and first-generation college students, the financial costs associated with a college degree are now threatening her dreams of becoming a teacher. Esther has taken out student loans but is still short the $4,500 that would enable her to return to campus this fall. Esther has had to overcome so much on her own; let’s help her get back on track toward earning her degree.
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- Ralph Woodworth
- Lauren S.
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- Mark Batstone
Fundraising team: Team Esther (3)
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