What’s your story? Samie Brosseau
In Samie Brosseau’s successful application for the 2011 Don Lawrence Memorial Scholarship, recently presented to her by PCMA’s New England Chapter, she summed up years of questioning and struggle in one short sentence:
“At the young age of 18, I left home against my parents’ wishes, and pursued a higher education.”
Brousseau, now, 24, grew up in the Twelve Tribes community in Island Pond, VT., that isolated itself from mainstream culture. Members share possessions, and everyone works in collective enterprises; children are homeschooled, and television, secular books and entertainment, newspapers, the Internet, radio, and higher education are not permitted. When Brousseau left home, she took only what she could carry in a small suitcase. This past December, she graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in hospitality management.
I was home schooled, and the Tribes ran a family organic cafe that I grew up working in. As a result I learned a lot of cooking and baking. My dad also helped start a chain of retail stores for the Tribes and as young teenager I helped out working in those stores.
Not everyone who grows up [in the community] has the opportunity to see anything outside. I started realizing that maybe [the outside world] was not bad like they told us in the community. Often the elders would tell us stories that people in the world were evil and going to hell. When I started talking to people outside the community and building relationships, I think this really caused me to want to see what else was out there. I knew that I did not want to live in the community, but I had no idea what I was going to do.
[Leaving the community] was definitely an immense struggle. My biggest challenge was learning how to file taxes, apply for financial aid and manage funds. I knew at the end of the day I was happier, even though it was difficult than I was when I lived with my family. This knowledge kept me going every day.
I have met many people who have served as my mentors even though they were not related to me.
I am naturally an outgoing person, but since I lived in such a sheltered environment, it has proven difficult for me to integrate myself into the college atmosphere. I learned a lot and just figured it out, and this helped me along the way to relate to people even though my background and upbringing is vastly different. When I was a full time student in college, I had four jobs at one time. So I think I developed a healthy work ethic growing up in the community. The hospitality industry is not a typical nine to five job.
For now, I would love to secure a job in convention sales management or conference services coordinating. Education is very important to me, and long term I would like to attend law school to study hospitality law.
I hope some day to be successful enough to fund a non-profit organization to help those in high control groups and cults. I would perhaps like to start a support group/advice group for ex members of such groups on how to navigate the world.