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Family Struggle Serves As One Woman's Motivation For Completing College

Courtesy Gracelynn Shibayama
Gracelynn Shibayama with her uncle.

This story originally aired on September 27, 2017.

College is really expensive. People take out loans, they work a million odd jobs, and if you’re lucky, you have parents who set up a college fund. When Gracelynn Shibayama was 17 years old, she had a college fund. But then, she got an email from her parents.    

“We had to use your college fund to pay for Calvin’s rehab. So, at that point it was like, Oh, this is getting really serious and if I want to go to college, and I thought that was going to be there, I’m going to have to start thinking about it now,” says Gracelynn.

Gracelynn’s family was falling apart. Her relationship with them was toxic and quickly disintegrating. Her brother was fighting an addiction. And now the money she was relying on to help pay for her future was suddenly gone.   

Now, most of us in Gracelynn’s situation would probably be too overwhelmed to think about school. She pushed forward. Her hustle was finding a way to get money for school to go to the University of Washington’s Bothell campus, but it would involve telling a complete stranger about these dark upheavals going on in her life. In this story, she explains what she had to do to Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer.

Kevin Kniestedt is a journalist, host and producer who began his career at KNKX in 2003. Over his 17 years with the station, he worked as a full time jazz host, a news host and produced the weekly show Sound Effect. Kevin has conducted or produced hundreds of interviews, has won local and national awards for newscasts and commentary.
Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.