Gina Meyer has always loved learning and adventure.
In her twenties she visited multiple countries while a student at Northern Kentucky University. A professor encouraged her to apply for an archaeological dig in the Caribbean, and she ended up spending four summers there, taking her young son along on some of those trips.
“I wanted him to see that there was more to life than just Kentucky, that the world was a big, big place, and that no matter what, if he wanted to do it, he could do it,” Gina says.
By writing grants and applying for fellowships, Gina was able to spend time in Europe and Indonesia.
When she was about to graduate from NKU, Gina had bought her cap and gown, printed invitations and applied to grad schools. Then she got a letter saying she lacked one credit to graduate.
The news was devastating. She began a downward spiral. Hearing she couldn’t graduate confirmed in her mind that she was an imposter.
She went from juggling parenting and 21 hours of classes to doing nothing. “If I was a great student and grant writer, then I became the best at doing nothing.”
Around this time, Gina was involved in a car accident and was prescribed pain medication. “I ended up on Oxycontin.” She says the next twenty years were a blur. “I made one bad decision after another.”
She tried many times to get clean. But she wasn’t aware of the services available to her or how she might pay for them.
In 2016, Gina overdosed. While she was in the hospital, a nurse told her that she could go to a recovery center and her medical card would pay. She went to Recovery Works and got clean.
But in 2018 she found herself overwhelmed with responsibility for the people around her. She took a handful of pills and ended up in the hospital.
“As soon as I took those pills, I realized I didn’t want to die,” Gina says. “I just did not want to live in this situation anymore. And when I got out of the hospital, I went to a women’s crisis center and stayed.”
Gina found a great therapist. Through therapy she has realized that before she was addicted to pills, she was addicted to school, trying to fill her emptiness with achievements.
Now Gina works cleaning houses and is very involved with her young grandson. She discovered the New Opportunity School for Women while trying to help someone else. “Being a caretaker, I was looking up stuff for a friend of mine.”
The friend was unable to attend, but Gina applied. After attending a three-day program online, she came to the residential program in June 2022. On the first day, she was sure she didn’t fit in. But by the time she graduated two weeks later, Gina was determined to go back to college and finish her degree.
In her NOSW graduation speech, she said: “I learned in these classes that I am and have always been everything I ever needed to be, nothing less, nothing more, just perfect the way I am.”