Addiction is a strong word. Surrounded with stigma, it’s a word people try to deny, ignore, and avoid being associated with. But Andrew Barrios is very different. Open and honest, he is the first to admit he was once heading down the wrong path. Now a self-driven individual, he has successfully turned his life around and he has College of Western Idaho (CWI) to partially thank.
“I moved to Idaho about two and a half years ago,” he said. “I had no friends, no family, and I was in an all-new environment. I was just starting the recovery process. It has been a journey ever since.”
The first in his family to go to college, Andrew has always done well in school—that is when he attended. He dropped out of high school shortly before he was supposed to graduate and decided to go it alone. He says he supported himself by selling drugs.
“Rebellion got the best of me,” he said. “I was supposed to graduate in 2009, but ended up getting my GED two years after that. The weird thing is that everyone saw the greatest within me way before I ever did.”
After realizing he needed help, a family friend recommended the recovery program at Lighthouse Rescue Mission. Two days later, he arrived in Nampa from Arizona. Part of Andrew’s long-term recovery plan included going to college. He found CWI through research, and discovered it was the best fit for him due to its convenience, scheduling, and cost. It also allowed him to work full time and stay involved with his church and community. Today, he is an academic all-star.
“I never thought I’d be here—just months away from graduating,” he said. “I’m a sophomore majoring in Biology. I have a 3.89 grade point average. I’m a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and I have been awarded two scholarships.”
Andrew recently received the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Scholarship through the CWI Foundation. The first scholarship he received was the Nampa Industrial Corporation. Both awards have helped him support himself as an independent adult while he lives a clean life.
“In this day and age, we’re supposed to have our lives together,” he said. “What has kept me on this path is believing in myself, and knowing I’m an example as a leader in my community. I am entrusted with responsibility and I don’t want to fail—myself or those who look up to me.”
Andrew now surrounds himself with like-minded people and healthy relationships. His life goal is to become a pediatrician. He has already been accepted to Northwest Nazarene University; where he will transfer after graduating from CWI in December.