Reaching Out: Conquering Debt and Depression
Growing up, Alexis Haymond Jeppesen (’17) excelled in school. She entered high school determined to succeed so she could attend a reputable college after graduation. During her junior year of high school, however, she hit an unexpected obstacle.
“All of a sudden I started not wanting to do well in school, and I didn’t really want to hang out with my friends or my family,” explains Jeppesen. “I just didn’t really feel like myself. . . I wasn’t very motivated at all to try.”
Instead of preparing for the ACT or focusing on her schoolwork, Jeppesen searched for answers to what was going on with herself. When there was no clear answer, Jeppesen reached out for help. She says, “I finally figured out that I needed some kind of help; I just couldn't figure it out on my own.” Soon after that, Jeppesen was diagnosed with depression.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America over 18 million adults in the United States battle some form of depression. “I know that there are a lot of cases that are a lot more severe than [mine], but it definitely affected my academics and my social life,” says Jeppesen. “With help, I was able to overcome my depression and get motivated again with my grades. I did really well on the ACT.”
By her senior year, Jeppesen had learned to manage her depression with the help of parents, teachers, medical professionals, and church leaders. With more understanding and control she applied to BYU. Unsure if she would be accepted after her poor academic performance her junior year, Jeppesen still hoped to attend BYU. “I remember the day that everyone was finding out, I was really scared and I waited until really late at night to check… and I was just in shock,” Jeppesen says. “I knew that BYU was where I was supposed to be, so it all worked out.”
Dealing with depression has its drawbacks, but Jeppesen also sees its benefits. “My depression is under a lot more control now, and I learned that even though I do feel depressed and unmotivated sometimes, that's not who I actually am,” says Jeppesen. “As a person, I'm greater than that. . . it doesn't define me.”
While Jeppesen had learned ways to cope with depression, she still faces the common stresses of normal college students. Jeppesen made a goal in high school to stay out of student debt so she moved to Provo soon after high school graduation to get a job on campus.
“Even though I was working a lot of hours, I knew that it wasn't going to quite be enough, because college is just expensive. I knew that if I kept on working hard that somehow it would work out, and if I just used my money wisely I’d have a shot at [staying out of debt].”
So far Jeppesen has kept her goal of staying debt free. She has received help in doing this from replenishment grants from the BYU Alumni Denver Chapter. The grants gave her more financial stability and helped her reach her goal to graduate BYU debt-free. In addition to helping Jeppesen financially, the grants helped Jeppesen emotionally and mentally as well.
“It brought a peace of mind. I could go to class and work hard without having to worry how I’m going to pay for this or that,” explains Jeppesen. “If I had to work more hours to pay for school, I just wouldn’t have as much time to commit to academics and other social activities.”
As Jeppesen approaches graduation from BYU at the end of 2017 with a degree in communication disorders, she looks forward to further education and a career in speech therapy.
--Braden Taylor ('19)