Posted at: 04/22/2013 9:13 AM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Photo: Rachel Kindell
Graduating college is a huge achievement for any student. But for one soon-to-be UNM grad, wearing a cap and gown will be all the more special because at one point, she wasn't even sure how to put clothes on her back.
In May, Rachel Kindell will walk across the stage at The Pit to receive her college diploma. Like so many others, she has big dreams for her future.
"In high school I always wanted to be a police officer," said Kindell. But unlike so many of her peers, Kindell had to choose to go to school even without a roof over her head. "What am I going to eat tomorrow?"
Kindell ended up on the streets when she was 16. She was kicked out of the house by her mother's former boyfriend. She says she had nowhere to turn.
"I started sleeping in the gym at school," she explained. "They would call me the West Mesa homeless kid. Sometimes I couldn't take a shower and you know, they would make fun of me and wouldn't want to sit by me."
Yet, she kept going. Kindell said it wasn't always easy, but the support she received at West Mesa High School made all the difference.
"But lucky enough I did have people who still believed in me and that's what really did it."
Kindell says her teachers pointed her in the right direction for scholarships, often lending a hand with even the basics.
"Sometimes she would help me with food or whatever," she said.
Now, six years after landing on the streets, she's engaged and living with her fiancée’s family and she's giving back.
"I wouldn't change anything that I've gone through because I think it allowed me to help other people," Kindell said.
Kindell is trying out for the Albuquerque Police Department in June.
She says she hopes she can make a difference for kids just like her.