TWIN FALLS, Idaho – Rebecca Thompson was 5 months pregnant in January when she found out she’d lost her baby.
“That was the final straw for me,” said Thompson, who turned 21 in May. “I just wanted to move out to Twin Falls with my grandma to get a fresh start.”
It came after a childhood of being raised by her grandparents while her parents were in jail, going in and out of foster homes as a teenager, and not finishing high school.
In February, Thompson left Pennsylvania. After two-and-a-half years away from school, she enrolled at Magic Valley High School – an alternative school in Twin Falls – to finish earning a high school diploma.
Thompson is among 59 students who graduated Wednesday from Magic Valley High. She plans to study registered nursing at the College of Southern Idaho.
It has been stressful being back in school, Thompson said, but added there are many great teachers at Magic Valley High. Her English teacher Peggy Carr and school counselor Amy Rothweiler helped her figure out how to complete everything she needed to graduate.
“They’ve all been really supportive,” she said. “They’ve all given me the extra push.”
Thompson said her family in Twin Falls has also encouraged her, and she’s adapting to her new city, which she says has nice people. “It’s been a great experience living in Twin Falls.”
Rothweiler said she’s impressed by Thompson’s determination to graduate from high school. “She has been through more obstacles than any one young person should ever have to overcome.”
Growing up, Thompson’s parents were in jail. She lived with her grandparents on her mother’s side of the family, who raised her in Chino Valley, Arizona.
When she was 14, she moved to Pennsylvania to try to build a relationship with her mother. “I was in and out of foster care, moving school to school,” Thompson said.
During her senior year of high school, she turned 18 and aged out of the foster care system. She didn’t finish earning her diploma.
Throughout her childhood, Thompson never knew her father. But shortly before she turned 20, her grandmother from her father’s side of the family reached out to her via Facebook. She had been looking for Thompson for years.
Around that time, Thompson became pregnant, but five months later had a miscarriage. She said she’s still dealing with health issues as a result and has been in the hospital.
Following that tragedy, she decided to move in with her grandmother in Twin Falls. She has worked to get reacclimated to school, too, including going to classes and doing homework.
“It’s been a major struggle,” she said, but this time, “I have a different mentality than when I was in high school.”
She was committed to earning her diploma. And after a long journey, she has achieved her goal.
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