NicoleOne winter, Milwaukee police found a teenage girl shivering on the streets and suffering from hypothermia. They brought her back safely, took her into custody, and transferred her to Lad Lake’s St. Rose campus.

Her name was Nicole. She was 17. Her mother battled with mental illness, while her father struggled to make the rent. When she was one, her parents sent her to live with her grandmother with hope for a better life.

Instead, Nicole got caught up with the wrong crowd, started experimenting with drugs and failing in school. Life spiraled out of control until she was arrested and sent to a group home. She ran away, ending up alone on the streets in the freezing dark.

That was last year. Today, with the help of St. Rose, Nicole is drug-free and getting her life back on track. Her F’s are now B’s and, equally important, she receives therapy and help dealing with her addictions.

“Without St. Rose, I wasn’t going to graduate.” maintains Nicole. “I think if I would’ve stayed using, I would’ve just said ‘forget it.’”

She’s learned coping mechanisms to handle her anxiety and now, instead of drugs, she plays her flute or spends time with her pets.

When asked what she’s learned from St. Rose, Nicole says, “You really don’t know what’s going to happen, until it happens… so the only way is to think before you do anything – and make good decisions.”