POCATELLO, Idaho – It took three tries and a hard-won commitment to sobriety, but Meikel Sharp is finally getting her high school diploma.
Ultimately, Sharp said, her desire to impress her five children was stronger than her methamphetamine addiction.
The 31-year-old Pocatello woman will be one of about 250 southeastern Idaho residents graduating with graduation equivalency diplomas from Idaho State University’s Adult Basic Education Program on Friday. When she walks down the aisle at the Stephens Performing Arts Center to get her diploma, her children will be there watching.
“I’ve been a disappointment to my kids quite a bit. I need something for myself to be proud of and them, too,” Sharp said. “I don’t want them to remember me as a disappointing mother.”
Sharp’s addiction to meth began when she was 15 and surrounded by friends and family members using the drug.
Her oldest daughter, Arizona, came several months later, when Sharp was a sophomore in high school. She dropped out and planned to take care of herself, not wanting to rely on family or the government for financial support.
But Sharp’s addiction to meth was too strong, and she eventually gave up trying to get her GED and slipped back into her dysfunctional lifestyle.
Six years later, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare prompted Sharp to give the GED another try.
“I was getting food stamps and assistance and working as a waitress,” Sharp said. “They wanted me to try and get a better job.”
Her second attempt fell short. Just like the first time, Sharp couldn’t stay away from meth.
Finally, in 2001, at age 25, Sharp was able to quit the drug and focus on her family.
“I knew I was doing something wrong and had to get off of it,” Sharp said. She enrolled in ISU’s adult education program in December.
Sharp’s also trying to reach another goal – she’s working on getting custody of her two youngest children, who are in foster care.
She has also enrolled in a business management program at ISU’s College of Technology, and she hopes to someday open a craft shop in Pocatello.
Monica Conley, administrative assistant for the adult basic education program, said Sharp is one of many graduates who have overcome adversity. Many people take years to complete the program, she said.
“She struggled with different issues, such as having children and a low income,” Conley said of Sharp. “She’s worked really hard to accomplish this.”