Hitting bottom and rising to the top


Will Nacouzi/The Skyline View

Brandon Conrad is making headway as a full-time student with a positive attitude and ambitions for the future.

Chris Dejohn, TSV Staff Writer

Your early 20s are for partying. When you’re young it’s time to hit the clubs, house parties, pull the ubiquitous all-nighter and still somehow make it to class at 9 a.m. It’s time for checking out the local gathering spot with friends and peers, maybe having a few drinks and possibly smoking a little weed. Usually harmless revelry on the weekends, but for some, the hard part is keeping it under control.

Sometimes fairly typical, youthful early 20s partying can lead to a dark and vicious cycle of unexpected drug abuse and alcoholism. Some find themselves drowning in a very cold, ever deepening, bottomless sea. So dark and deep in fact, that it may seem all but impossible to swim to the surface. Until very recently, that was exactly the case for 23 year old Skyline College student Brandon Conrad.

“I was addicted to heroin and prescription narcotics for about five years,” Conrad said. “Being young and in close reach of the stuff makes it easy to get and really hard to get away from.”

Conrad found it difficult to break away from the same old habits and that same old crowd who would enable his addiction. Not exactly realizing how far down the wrong road he had gone, Conrad says it took more than a few wake up calls to straighten him out.

“I put myself into rehab a couple of times. I had a couple of near death experiences. Plus, I had a few buddies get killed. You know, OD. That really woke me up,” Conrad said. “It’s when it stops being a party and starts turning into a need, you know.”

Now in his first full time semester at Skyline College, Conrad has been reaping the rewards of kicking hard drugs. Conrad is majoring in psychology and is planning on transferring to Stanford University, one of the world’s leading research and teaching institutions, after just a few more semesters here at Skyline. Conrad intends to keep his eyes on the prize and to stay focused while working his way to writing his own ticket.

“If you don’t have goals you can fall right back into it,” Conrad said. “But if you have priorities and goals, you won’t.”

Conrad is a student in Academic Counselor Tim Dupres Counseling 100 class, and has been motivating him to keep up his good work. With Dupres knowledge of Standford’s scholarship opportunities, Conrad was able to visualize an academic plan for his future and continue setting goals for himself.

Under their Parent Contribution program, Stanford offers free tuition for students from lower income families who qualify for aid. In some instances Stanford will even pay a students room and board. While Associate Dean & Director of Financial Aid for Stanford, Karen Cooper was unavailable for comment, another financial aid counselor acknowledged that the 2006 established program is still in place.

For his final words of wisdom on pulling your self up by your boot straps, Conrad had this to say:

“It doesn’t matter how low at the point of life you are. You can definitely turn it around,” Conrad said. “Don’t give up on yourself even before you give yourself a chance.”

For more information on Stanford’s Parent Contribution program visit:


Updated: the article has been updated to fix AP mistakes. 12:28 .p.m. 3/24/2014.