by Ed Riley
By the time she was 23, Icy Straley lived through more than most people twice her age. What she has overcome is an inspiration to just about everyone.She is enrolled in the Centralia College Bachelor of Applied Science in Management program and although she does not have a clear career goal, she knows that the bachelor’s degree will open doors to greater opportunity. She’s seen the uglier side of life and knows that education will give her access to a brighter future.
Growing up without a father and in a destructive home environment, by the time she was a teenager Straley was exposed to a life of drugs. At 15 she was removed from her home and placed in to foster care. When Straley was 16 her mother died as a result of her own personal struggles.
Straley’s life began to turn around when she entered drug rehabilitation and received a level of stability through life with her foster mom Annette Peters and her foster grandpa Roy Gutschmidt.
“I don’t know where I would be without them and their encouragement.” said Straley. “They have stuck with me through thick and thin. They truly are my family now.”
When Peters speaks about her foster daughter, she does so as any loving mother would. “I’ve fostered other kids, but Icy is a success story. She has gone the furthest,” Peters said. “How far she has come is amazing. We are so proud of her.”
Straley began taking classes to earn her GED at Centralia College in 2006. She continued to take classes and later went on to earn her high school diploma and an associate in arts degree in 2011. Straley is now stretching her abilities, setting her sites to qualify for a brighter future, and having some fun through the BASM program.
“The BASM program is not typical of a lot of bachelor programs,” said Straley. “The amount of teamwork among students, faculty, and support staff is amazing. We are all in this together.” The bachelor’s program has grouped the students into a single cohort, each member working with others as a team to tackle projects.
In addition to overcoming her past, Straley has been able to succeed while having the additional task being a single mother of 3 year old twins.
“She definitely holds her own against students who have a lot more experience in the business world,” said Jeff McQuarrie, one of Centralia College’s BASM instructors. “She is really a hardworking student.”
When asked about continuing her educational goals, including her bachelor degree at Centralia College, she said, “I’m always pushing my friends to come to the college. The way the people at the college support you is what makes the difference at Centralia.”