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Class of 2010: Briana Mushinsky drew strength from loved ones

Briana Mushinsky will attend Washington State University. - Brian Olson/Staff Photo
Briana Mushinsky will attend Washington State University.
— image credit: Brian Olson/Staff Photo

POULSBO — If Briana Mushinsky wore boots, the straps would be frayed from constant tugging.

The 18-year-old Poulsbo resident has largely pulled herself up on her own to get to where she is today, overcoming a childhood marred by abuse and addiction. But, she says, the people close to her have played integral supporting roles.

“I think I did a lot by myself,” Mushinsky said. “I had support from my family, it was just more emotional support than financial support. They couldn’t really be there for me financially, but they definitely were always supportive of me.”

Mushinsky has kept herself busy the last couple of years with schoolwork, two jobs and extracurricular activities. Today all of that will pay off as she participates in North Kitsap High's commencement ceremonies. It will pay off further down the road as well, as she prepares to enter Washington State University’s nursing program in August.

She received government grants for college, as well as scholarships from the Poulsbo-North Kitsap Rotary Club, Poulsbo Lions and others. Mushinsky also entered the Miss Poulsbo pageant this winter and was awarded $700 for college.

“Now with the scholarships that I’ve received,” she said, “I probably won’t have to take out any student loans this next fall.”

When Mushinsky was a child, her parents both struggled with drug addiction. She lived first with her mother, then with her father. But when her father became physically and emotionally abusive, she moved in with her aunt.

“When I was with my parents, I was taking care of them,” Mushinsky said. “I physically do not have the ability to hate them. ... They were just going through their own things at the time. I forgive them.”

Even though her mother, who is now sober and living in Florida, could not be there for her, Mushinsky knew she cared.

“No matter what she did, I always knew that she loved me,” Mushinsky said. “And I think that’s what made me OK. Because I really think that I could’ve been pretty messed up from everything that I went through. But she always made sure to tell me she loved me.”

Mushinsky moved in with her aunt in eighth grade. But money was tight, so a couple of years later, Mushinsky got a job to help support herself. She started working at That’s-A-Some Italian Ristorante to pay for a car and personal expenses.

“I pretty much was just making enough money to pay for insurance, gas and any other expenses I needed,” she said. “Anything that I needed, I was buying myself, pretty much, except for food and rent.”

When the time came to apply for college, Mushinsky got some help from others. Her aunt, grandmother and boyfriend supported her emotionally, and her grandmother agreed to buy her a laptop.

“I always knew that I wanted to go to college, just because my parents were never able to give me the kind of life where I was provided for,” Mushinsky said. “I kind of knew I wanted that at one point in my life, and obviously graduating from high school is the huge step in getting to that.”

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