“I’d given everything to God. I wanted out.” Mersadees grew up being abused, neglected, and raped. She wears glasses because her father continuously threw bleach in her eyes as a child. As she grew older, she turned to stripping and the care of older men to ease her pain. Nothing helped. She had no goals, no dreams, until she had a daughter. Mersadees says having a daughter, even though it was from a rape, gave her the first glimmer of hope she ever had in her life. “I didn’t want to hurt like this anymore,” she said, “I wanted to stay strong for my daughter.” Her trauma made her bitter and angry, but after years of hard work, and turning to God, she can finally say she loves herself. Mersadees credits her best friend as her main push and support to better herself and get the help she desperately needed. She has always found joy in cooking, even if she wasn’t good at it. She would cook for the children in her neighborhood who needed healthy and nutritious meals but didn’t have them, due to absent parents or a bad home life. When she got older, she cooked for the other women in the local battered women’s shelter she stayed at. Mersadees liked the happiness it brought to others. Mersadees came to CCSC because she felt like we gave her a fighting chance at school and at life. She says that graduating from CCSC will be another miracle in her life, and that the school provides her with peer support that she’s never had. We are so blessed to have Mersadees as a part of Class 72, and for her to share her story with us. It’s only up from here!