PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Many incoming undergraduates first set foot on Brown’s campus as prospective students or newly admitted ones. But Katherine Haley first came to College Hill when she was still a little girl growing up in Nashua, New Hampshire.
“We grew up poor, so one of the things my mom would do to entertain us was taking us to college campuses to just walk around,” she said. “We went to Brown a bunch of times… My brother and I both loved it.”
Last spring, Haley found herself walking Brown’s grounds again, but this time as a newly admitted transfer student, weighing a dozen offers from colleges and universities around the country — many that, like Brown, had extended her full tuition scholarships.
“I was walking around the main green looking at everything, looking at the students — and I’ve got to tell you, they looked super happy,” she said. “Something in me was like, ‘I think this is the one.’ It ended up not even being a decision.”
Haley’s full-circle journey seems fated. But for much of the two-decade span between these two moments, a Brown education felt far from her reach, she said. As a child, she loved school: With two parents battling addiction, the classroom was a “safe place” where she thrived. But after Haley briefly left high school to care for her younger sister, her relationship to school changed.
“It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it,” she said. “I just felt like I couldn’t relate to anybody at school anymore, and that no one could relate to me.”
Haley eventually dropped out, and her own, long struggle with substance abuse began. After her parents, who had since become sober, both died, Haley’s addiction intensified until she checked into a treatment center days before turning 26. In the months that followed, Haley said, she threw herself into her recovery.