TWIN FALLS — Megan Brown is focused on graduating from high school, despite many obstacles standing in her way.
In addition to going to school, the Twin Falls 19-year-old has been responsible for taking care of her younger siblings — ages 11 and 15 — for most of the year. And she works two part-time jobs that total about 60 hours a week.
Brown is among 54 graduates Wednesday who’ll earn a diploma from Magic Valley High School, an alternative school in Twin Falls. She told the Times-News on May 13 she’s determined to graduate from high school.
“I know I gotta stay on top of it,” she said. “That motivation is really driving me right now.”
She plans to attend the College of Southern Idaho in the fall to pursue an associate’s degree in biology. She earned a one-semester full tuition scholarship as a finalist in an essay contest sponsored by the Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and a $500 CSI theater scholarship.
After earning an associate degree, Brown hopes to earn bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry at Idaho State University, and she wants to attend medical school in South Korea, with the goal of becoming a trauma surgeon.
Brown said she has met wonderful people from South Korea and says medical schools in the country are excellent. She said the country is also beautiful, and she wants to spend time exploring and traveling in the area.
A challenging transition to Twin Falls
Brown grew up in the Monterey Bay, California, area and attended kindergarten through eighth grade in Bradley, California, which had only about 95 students.
Her family moved briefly to Logan, Utah, for her first semester of ninth grade and she started at Twin Falls High School during the second semester of ninth grade.
Transitioning from a tiny school in her earlier years to Twin Falls High — which has more than 1,100 students — was rough. “It was very much anxiety-inducing,” Brown said.
She said she was depressed and wasn’t going to school regularly. When she did, she became physically ill from the stress.
“I was so anxious I was making myself sick,” she said.
Brown tried taking classes online, but it wasn’t for her. Online students need a lot of self-motivation, she said, something she didn’t have at the time.
Brown’s mother told her there was a school — Magic Valley High — right down the road from where they lived and that Brown needed to go there. Magic Valley High is the perfect size and felt comfortable, Brown said.
At first, “I just wanted to do my thing and graduate,” she said. She avoided interacting with other people. But she ended up getting involved in the theater program last school year and it snowballed from there.
Brown joined a robotics team and became a student ambassador for Magic Valley High, which included planning prom, fundraising and helping make decisions at the school that affect students.
She’s active with the school’s art program, too, and her drawings are displayed in one of the hallways.
“She has done everything she can to get as involved as she can,” school counselor Amy Rothweiler said.
Brown contributes positively to the school and is a “positive light” for Magic Valley High out in the community, Rothweiler said, and always puts forth her best effort. “She excels at everything she does.”
Work and taking care of siblings
This school year, Brown has been taking care of her younger siblings. But she said it’s not the first time she has done so.
Brown said her mother is incarcerated and her father was estranged from the family for about seven years but is now back in the picture. Brown and her siblings are living with their father.
“It’s a challenge not micromanage them,” Brown said about taking care of her siblings. “I feel really responsible for their actions.”
In addition to helping with her siblings and going to school, Brown has two part-time jobs: She works about 30 hours a week; evening shifts at MOD Pizza, and online for about 30 hours a week doing computer programming for websites.
“Sometimes, it gets very overwhelming,” Brown said. She said she tries to get in as much work as possible.
Rothweiler described Brown as “just delightful,” and someone who is able to maintain a positive attitude and excel in school and extracurricular activities despite challenges in her personal life.
“It’s a testament to who she is as a person,” Rothweiler said. “She’s a pretty spectacular individual. She really is going to succeed.”