Most kids have held only a handful of summer jobs by the time they turn 18 and graduate from high school. But MEAD Alternative High School graduate and soon-to-be-nurse Devon Mead will have rented her own apartment, bought her own car and insurance, held multiple jobs while maintaining exceptional grades, taken college classes and earned her Certified Nursing Assistant certificate by the time she graduates.
Mead has hurdled myriad adversities and challenges as a young woman, but has remained a shining star of motivation, determination and success at MEAD Alternative.
As Mead’s counselor and teacher, Karina Berven has gotten to know her well.
“I have walked alongside her for most of her high school career, and she is fiercely resilient; a person who can handle so many things,” Berven said.
But let’s back up a few years. Mead started her freshman year of high school as any bright 14- or 15-year-old would. She was on track to be valedictorian and holding a 4.0 GPA, went to nationals for the Health Occupation Students of America and attended school dances. She remembers her freshman year fondly.
But then she got depression.
“That put me out of commission for about two years,” Mead said.
Facing depression in addition to significant personal trauma, Mead fought on. There were dark days, she said. But she persisted.
Berven interviewed Mead when she applied to attend MEAD Alternative, and worked with her throughout her education, watching her flourish, even when she hit roadblocks.
Once she started at MEAD Alternative and began to recover during her sophomore year, Mead had to balance what some kids her age never have to do until they are in their mid-20s. She was now living on her own, and she needed to make money to pay rent and feed herself, among other financial needs. So she got a job at NorthTown Mall.
“I think a lot of kids do that … but a lot of them borrow their parents’ car or their parents pay for a bus pass. She had to figure it all out,” Berven said. “All while maintaining her grades, keeping a positive attitude and just shrugging it off and saying, ‘This is what happens, and it happens to people. It’s happening to me right now, and I need to get through it.’ She very quickly rose to the occasion, time after time.”
Now as she is preparing to graduate, Mead said if she could tell her younger self anything, she would offer words of kind encouragement.
“It gets better,” she said with a smile. “Don’t give up. Keep goin’. That’s the hardest challenge when you’re young and battling everybody else.”
Mead plans to finish up pre-nursing classes in Spokane, and hopes to move elsewhere for college. She’s found a home here in the Pacific Northwest, but she’s ready to leave.
“I’m ready for college,” she said. “I’m ready to get out and (go to a) university and get out of Spokane.”
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