Incredible Rochester Woman Goes from Homeless to Ivy League Graduate
A Rochester, Minnesota native, Sarah Brakebill-Hacke, has gone through her fair share of hardship and then some. She has gone through some difficult times in her life. But despite having the odds stacked against her, she now has a degree from Yale University.
When Sarah was a child growing up in southeast Minnesota she bounced around to different foster homes. Both of her parents were battling mental illness and her dad was battling a heroin addiction according to the Star Tribune. Later on, she became homeless and was sleeping in the stairwells and bathrooms of the subway in downtown Rochester. At age 17 she gave her first child up for adoption, started using any drugs she could get her hands on, stopped going to school, lost her job, and eventually became a nomad.
Sarah would hitch rides wherever she could go. She told the Star Tribune, "'I hitchhiked around the country with a backpack, a tent and my dog.'" She would work for food and a place to stay, hold a sign asking for money, and sleep in cars when she needed to. One day, she saw a woman asking for signatures for a petition and learned that this woman made $1 for every signature she got. And that's how Sarah's interest in human rights was born.
She would go around the country getting signatures for various petitions that she believed in, bringing her partner and 2 kids along. Eventually, she made her way back to Rochester and at age 31 got her associate's degree from RCTC. She was also the student government president and the reason the RCTC has a food shelf for students in need.
Her education then took her to Yale University, where she was able to get a full-ride thanks to the school's Eli Whitney Students Program. At age 34 she now has an undergraduate degree from Yale in global affairs, is currently studying at the University of Cambridge in England to get a master's degree in human evolutionary biology, and plans to come back to the US and get a master's degree in international policy at Stanford University. Her goal is to become an international human rights lawyer and to "negotiate globally to establish basic human needs — food, shelter, medicine — as a human right."