Seven years after she was released from prison with a sixth-grade education, Miki Cabell is ready to pursue a Ph.D.
Cabell, 48, struggled with meth addiction and mental illness throughout her adult life. Many problems stemmed from growing up in poverty, she said, as well as surviving an abusive childhood and marriage.
“After I got out of prison the last time, I had to reach this place of absolute surrender,” she said. “I lived my entire life on the fringe.”
Education helped turn her life around, thanks to scholarships from local benefactors. Cabell credits several mentors and a strong support system for helping to break the cycle of poverty in her family.
In 2010, she earned an associate degree from Grays Harbor College. In June, she will graduate from The Evergreen State College with a master’s degree in public administration and tribal governance. This fall, she will begin a doctorate program, focusing on social advocacy and marginalized people. Harvard University is among four programs that have accepted her, Cabell said.
Shortly after she enrolled at Grays Harbor College, in 2009, Cabell was honored with a Phoenix Award that worked wonders for her outlook on life. Sponsored by Behavioral Health Resources, the annual program honors individuals in Thurston, Mason and Grays Harbor counties who have overcome mental illness or addiction. Professionals in the mental health and recovery industry are also recognized.
“It was the first award I ever received,” said Cabell, a Hoquiam resident. “I don’t think I believed in myself at that point. Just getting that award was really life-changing for me.”
BHR wants nominations for this year’s Phoenix Awards. Award winners are selected by a panel of judges from BHR’s three-county service area, said spokeswoman Alliea Phipps. She said the award symbolizes the struggle to “rise from the ashes” of chemical dependency and mental illness.
“We want people to be recognized for their hard work,” Phipps said. “People out there do make these journeys. It’s a really tough path.”
Deadline for nominations is May 23. Nomination forms are available at bhr.com. The 2014 Phoenix Awards will be presented during a breakfast at 7 a.m. June 12 at Indian Summer Golf and Country Club.
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