Pierce College student overcomes the odds, graduates with a little help from instructors

Grad-ResizedA week before finals Katrina Thaves, a Pierce College student, found out her best friend committed suicide. Facebook RIP posts were flooding her news feed and images of him smiling with friends made the popular page on Instagram.

“It’s a lot more difficult to stay focused and maintain that positive outlook when everything is falling apart around you,” said Thaves. “About three weeks ago my best friend committed suicide and during winter quarter of last year my grandpa died.”

Facing a difficult time didn’t prove any easier when Thaves was finishing up her courses at Pierce to graduate this year.

“It’s really difficult to try and pull your-self back together, but in the midst of everything I’m glad that I pushed myself and I’m glad that I had people there to support me,” Thaves said.

It was vital that Thaves made changes in order to stay on track to achieving her goals. “I’ve had to completely reform my outlook on life and my personality,” Thaves said. “If I hadn’t learned to change I would have never made it through.”

Teachers at Pierce were able to encourage and push her to move forward and graduate on time.

”I got lucky to have several teachers along the way that really cared about me and my well-being including my advisor Tom Link; whether he knows it or not he’s really helped me on my journey.”

Psychology instructor Link kept Thaves focused and positive. “If I wouldn’t do so well in a class or my GPA would lower he would always provide me with different options and constantly maintain a positive attitude,” Thaves said.

Thaves was a Running Start student at Pierce during high school and has been attending the college for three years. She plans on transferring to a four-year to get her bachelors in psychology.

“I’m passionate about people. I love people and how they work.  And after everything I’ve been through I want to help people get through their grief and through their issues and their problems,” Thaves said.

In order for Thaves to push herself toward her goal of graduating she recited this mantra daily: “Every day is a brand new day. If I just keep pushing through it I’m going to be a better person.”

Thaves is the first grandchild in her family to go to college and with that in mind graduating and pursuing a psych degree at a university is her No. 1 goal.

“It’s important to me because it means that my efforts were worth something,” Thaves said. “Now that I am done and I am graduating it makes me feel better about who I am and what I’ve accomplished.”

Thaves received her degree from Pierce College on June 13.

Story and photo by Holly Buchanan 

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