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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 04, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 06Jun00

Summarized by Eileen Bell

'Independent' LDS Student Graduates From High School On Her Own
Deseret News 1Jun00 P2
By Maria Titze: Deseret News staff writer

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- 17 year old Tiffany Barnes may look like the rest of the kids at her high school grad, but her story is very different than most teenagers.

Tiffany has received several scholarships, and will play viola in an orchestra at the University of Utah in the Fall... What's amazing about her story is that she's been on her own for several years. The truth about her came out when she showed up by herself for a parent-teacher interview.

After disagreements at home, Tiffany left her mother and step-father when she was in the eighth grade. A brief stay at her father's ended when her marks suffered. "I feel so much older than my peers. I had to grow up so soon. I don't feel like I got to be a kid as much as I could have."

Tiffany was able to live with a friend's family for awhile, but when she was 16 she returned to her mother's home briefly. When it didn't work, "Then I moved out on my own." The state of Utah considers teens minors until they turn 18, unless they've married or joined the military. However, in Tiffany's case, a judge approved her living on her own. Her school district then gave her independant status.

Tiffany rented a small apartment and went to work making ends meet. "For a while there, I was working four part-time jobs. My income depended a lot on tips, but I would say I made over $1,000 a month, which is pretty good for being in high school."

She preferred waitressing, "I could just take the money home that night, and if I needed bread or milk, I could just get it."

She thrived, keeping up her grades and her church attendance. "I had just one day off, and that was Sunday. " She became a member of a student ward at the University of Utah. "The first two weeks nobody talked to me. Then once, my car wasn't working, and I had to walk from Sugar House to the U. When I got to church, my feet were bleeding from the blisters." Getting help from those at Church that Sunday helped to break the ice for her, and make her feel part of things.

Now Tiffany lives with two 23 year old students, and is eager to begin college in the Fall.


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