After an incredible start to her college life in Atlanta – joining step club, seeking out every extracurricular activity she could, and immersing herself in Arabic – Minyon experienced four semesters of back-to-back struggle. “My aunt raised me to value the power of higher education and I dove right into the experience - I've always had what I call a “thirsty brain”. But when my mother passed away, followed shortly by my uncle, I couldn’t keep up. The circumstances felt brutal.”
Minyon, a natural self-advocate, had exhausted every opportunity she could find on campus to deal with her grief and mental health challenges – from individual and group therapy, visiting the student success office, and speaking to campus counsellors – but in the end, she realized she needed to take a medical leave of absence and take retroactive academic withdrawal. “Teachers were reaching out when I was no longer showing up. I felt like I had advocates in the classroom, but I noticed a pattern – one month I would feel like I was excelling, and the next month I was depressed. I made a promise to myself that if I couldn’t make that fourth semester work, I would leave and get help.”
Education had always been a guiding light, and even though she chose to withdraw, Minyon knew she didn’t want to remain out of school too long and lose the momentum she still had. After taking time to grieve and plotting her path back to education, she spent some time working for a small business, but noticed the same patterns of excelling, then withdrawing, were emerging again. “I realized my friends in Atlanta were the friends I had from college, and it was hard seeing them continue their education as I was still figuring out my next steps. I wasn’t showing up at work the way I needed to, and my boss recognized what was happening, but ultimately it didn’t work out.”
After a move to the west coast in 2020, Minyon collected herself and found strength in an old group of friends who spoke openly about their mental health challenges. She started freelancing, bolstering her support network and seeking out therapy, and wanted to get in front of her life again. During her time in college, she had bookmarked a post on The Mighty by Fountain House College Re-Entry graduate Addie and connected her own story to the words on screen. She reached out to the program and before she knew it, was enrolled in the virtual Spring 2021 semester as a Danny Zorn Scholarship recipient. Although the world was an incredibly different place during the pandemic, the prospect of connecting with the College Re-Entry program virtually fit well with Minyon’s goals and her freelance commitments.
Today, Minyon is working with her College Re-Entry academic coach Michaela to prepare to head back to school in the fall, including choosing the right courses that will allow her the freedom to transfer and maintain her scholarship. “Even though I was feeling better, I knew I was not ready to show up to my education the way I needed to show up. Now that I found Fountain House College Re-Entry, I’m preparing to head back to school in the Fall and feed my ‘thirsty brain’ yet again!”
Mental health challenges can prompt a college student to leave school for a time. If you, or someone you know, have left college due to a mental health challenge, let us help you return with a program of individual coaching, academic preparedness, wellness training, and community. Fountain House College Re-Entry is now enrolling and scholarships are available through the Danny Zorn Scholarship fund - fill out an application today.