Typical stresses of college life include high tuition costs, pulling all-nighters and balancing a social life with school. But for one particular female COC student, it includes being homeless.
This 20-year-old student, who doesn’t want to be identified, has been homeless for nine months. She had a falling out with her parents, and then began sleeping in her car.
She graduated from COC in fall 2012 with a double associate’s degree in theater and theater performance. She has seven more classes to take, mostly general education, to transfer to a university. She hopes to transfer to California State University, Fullerton and earn her bachelor’s degree in musical theater.
In order to support herself she enters karaoke contests, in which she receives savings bonds if she wins, and acts as an extra on various TV shows, such as “Teen Wolf” and “Glee”. Money from work as a TV extra ranges from $200-$700 a month.
She has also taught theater and voice to elementary school kids.
She says that her parents do help when they can but they are not a big factor in her life. “I have learned and continue to grow and learn to become self-reliant,” she said.
She says even if she were to work two minimum-wage jobs she still wouldn’t make enough to support herself with the bills she would have if she had a place to live, considering rent and utilities.
Despite her circumstances, she is not negative. “You have to try and find the good in everything,” she said.
Frequently, she has to switch sleeping locations from store parking lots and residential neighborhoods due to patrolling police. She also has a sprained back and neck compression due to living in a car.
She says that her car has been vandalized twice and has had to brush her teeth with a water bottle on occasion since most businesses require you to be a customer to use their restrooms.
She hopes to get back on her feet by taking it one day at a time. She also plans to continue teaching and acting during her process of earning her bachelors degree.
“I know it can’t last forever,” she said, “so you have to stay positive.”