Skye Troy is still learning to talk about the hardest times in her life.
Being kicked out of school for doing drugs, and later arrested for stealing credit cards. Losing weight until she was all of 95 pounds, and losing her hair.
The 10 days in rehab consumed by cold sweats and chills.
“Growing up, I had to overcome so many obstacles,” she said.
Now 22 and clean for six years, Troy will celebrate the completion of another major milestone: college graduation.
The student body president will speak at today’s Washington State University Vancouver commencement ceremony, where 1,014 students will receive their diplomas. That’s a record for the Salmon Creek campus, with 28 doctoral candidates, 110 master’s candidates and 876 bachelor’s candidates graduating.
Troy will graduate with a degree in public affairs, and hopes to go to work as a government relations liaison in the fields of social justice, economic equality and women’s rights. She’s passionate for social reform at the local level, drawing from her own experience growing up in the rural Oklahoma city of Owasso to drive her.
“I felt like we were the forgotten people,” she said of her hometown.
Troy was raised by a single mother who worked three low-wage jobs, leaving her at home alone as a young girl.
If You Go
- What: Washington State University Vancouver commencement.
- When: 1 p.m. today.
- Where: Sunlight Supply Amphitheater, 17200 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.
- Cost: The event is free and tickets are not required.
“It was just me and her, and even so we struggled,” she said.
At age 12, Troy began drinking with her friends. Then, she turned to marijuana, and eventually to full-blown narcotics.
Unsupervised, she began committing petty crimes to fuel her drug habit.
In high school, she was busted for stealing credit cards, she said. Her friends were charged with felony credit card fraud and sent to jail. Troy, a juvenile, was put on house arrest instead, and sent to court-mandated rehab.
It was a wake-up call for Troy, who was advised she needed at least three months of rehab to overcome the depth of her addiction. But her mother couldn’t afford a stay that long.
“That was make it or break it,” Troy said.
Despite her personal struggles, Troy said she excelled in school. She graduated with a 3.5 grade point average, and was presented with a choice: She could stay in Owasso or move to Troutdale, Ore., where her older sister lived.
“I wanted her to experience that and really get away and find herself and give her the opportunity to become a person that she has become,” Troy’s sister, Rachael Hale, said. “It’s this amazing transformation. I knew she had it in her.”
Troy attended Mt. Hood Community College for two years, where she became heavily involved in student government. In 2015, she received the WSU Vancouver Community College President Award, a program that grants full tuition for two years to WSU. The presidents of the participating schools directly select the students who receive the award.
Upon transferring, Troy became actively involved in student government, moving up through the ranks as positions became available. Heading into her senior year, she ran for student body president, and won.
She also received the 2016 Emerging Leader Award from Portland State University’s Center for Women’s Leadership, and was the 2017 nominee for WSUV’s Woman of Distinction awards.
Troy plans to take a year off to work and travel, then go to graduate school in Washington, D.C. She’s humbled to be speaking at this weekend’s graduation, and said she hopes her personal story of struggle will help others facing similar obstacles.
“I’ve overcome it and gone past it,” Troy said. “It’s one of my battle wounds of life.”