I Will ALWAYS Keep Fighting

By: Rochelle Fraenig

My name is Rochelle Fraenig. I’m from the quaint city of Brighton, Michigan. I grew up with my youngest sister, my mother, and my mom’s boyfriend. I have two more siblings who are older than me but did not live at home, and I had little to no contact with my father. After my parents divorced, my mom could not cope in a healthy way which led to a childhood surrounded by alcoholism and the neglect that follows. This then led to me being placed in foster care in my sophomore year of high school.

Despite my difficult home life, I found school to be safe haven and focused my energy there. I learned something valuable which has helped me tremendously throughout my life — don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help. Thanks to a plethora of support from friends and teachers at school I ended up graduating with a 3.8 GPA and getting into the University of Michigan. I am now going into my third year at UofM and I am studying Screen Arts & Culture. I had always been passionate about storytelling and filmmaking became my preferred medium to tell these stories.

All I have ever wanted to do is use my voice and share my story to inspire others.

One of the stories I hope to bring to the screen will be that of these past three years. The summer after I graduated high school I was granted the opportunity to share my experiences with the First Lady at the White House. This was the first Beating the Odds (BTO) event of three so far. The following summer I was invited back, but this time the event was much larger and I was asked to speak on a student panel. The events grew into something that reached a larger audience and encouraged more youth to pursue higher education.

Rochelle alongside First Lady Michelle Obama and the other student panelists at the 2016 Beating the Odds Summit.

After the BTO Summits, the feedback I got was almost surreal. All I have ever wanted to do is use my voice and share my story to inspire others. These Summits provided me not only with a voice, but a platform to do exactly that. Many of the young people who had attended the Summits shared part of their stories with me and talked on about how much they appreciated the advice I had to offer. I received messages from people I didn’t know who had watched the live-stream of the panels. I know firsthand that storytelling can change lives, but to be the one who possibly can be the catalyst of that change is nothing short of a blessing.

There is so much to say about my adventures in college and with Beating the Odds Summits that I can’t fit in a blog post. However, the biggest takeaway for me from the past three years is to Always Keep Fighting because you never know who will be listening to your story and who you will inspire.