Gateway: News

2015 Students of Distinction: Shelby Hakenson

Shelby Hakenson overcame drug addiction to make up almost an entire year of missed school and to graduate on time with her classmates. She’s proud to still be alive and meet her graduation goal while looking forward to college.

Hakenson started hanging out with a “bad crowd” at age 13, getting into drugs and skipping school.

By the time she was in eighth grade, she became addicted to heroin. Her life went on a downward spiral.

“This drug took over my life. I shut out the world,” she said.

Even undergoing addiction treatment twice didn’t help her when she became a freshman at Peninsula High School.

“I was never there and I didn’t have good grades,” she said.

Sent to live for a time with her father, also an addict, opened her eyes. “Something clicked because I didn’t want to be like him,” she said.

After a third round of treatment, Hakenson became clean more than two years ago. She’s been attending Henderson Bay High School, where’s she worked hard to recover all her credits.

“She doesn’t give up, and always puts in 110 percent,” said her math and core teacher, Kelsey Patterson. “Her improvement was phenomenal, and her confidence was a beautiful thing to witness.”

Hakenson said it took a lot of discipline for her to do the work so she could catch up with her academics.

“I was determined and focused, and my grades were good,” she said.

At the same time, she worked at Henderson Bay’s childcare.

“I love kids; they’re amazing,” she said.

Hakenson wants to pursue her interest in oral health and become a dental hygienist. She plans to enroll at Tacoma Community College for her prerequisite classes, with the goal of transferring to Western Washington University for a degree in dentistry.

“Shelby is one of the most responsible, caring women I have met. She takes her responsibilities very seriously and always has a positive attitude,” Patterson said. “She cares for other and her humor is contagious. You can’t help but enjoy being around her.”