VIDEO: East Bay woman goes from homeless to college graduate


HAYWARD (KRON) -- As hundreds of students graduate from college this weekend, a Hayward woman's path to a diploma is especially inspiring.

Brenda Brown says at one point, she was living in her car while attending classes. Now this weekend, she'll be wearing a cap and gown.

This afternoon, KRON4 spoke with her about the challenges of making it to graduation and what she's hoping for in the future.

"I got laid off from a job I had for over eight years," Brown said.

Back in 2009, Brown, like so many other people, lost her job during the great recession.

"I was unable to find gainful employment," Brown said. "It was a job looking for a job."

For years, she struggled in vain to find a new job and make ends meet.

In 2010, her unemployment ran out.

"I was pretty much living on God's grace and mercy for a year before I decided I'm going back to school," Brown said.

Brenda enrolled at Cal State East Bay in the communications department. Financial aid paid for school but left little money for anything else.

Up against the Bay Area's red-hot rental market, Brown says she had to move from rented room to rented room.

At one point, she was reduced to living out of her car.

For months, she parked on campus at night and took showers at a gym.

"I told myself it's not going to last that long," Brown said. "I've worked too hard up until that point when I was in my car not to. At that point, I could either sink of swim."

But Brenda kept at it, attending classes and doing whatever work she could find.

This coming weekend, she will graduate with a degree in communications.

She still doesn't have a job lined up or a permanent home, but she's looking forward to the future.

"I'm excited to see what doors a degree will open for me," Brown said.

She also hopes her story can be an inspiration to anyone else who might be struggling to make ends meet.

"I would definitely recommend it. It's never too late to give up," Brown said.

Finally, Brenda says she plans to attend grad school in the fall and that her dream gig would be working for the San Francisco 49ers.


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