Teacher starts homeless before starting her career

Amber Armstrong

Amber Armstrong

Fifteen years ago, Rebecca Freilinger thought things couldn’t get any worse. After separating from her husband, Freilinger struggled to make ends meet. But the bills kept piling up. Paying for rent, gas, car insurance and daycare for her two-year-old boy forced the pregnant woman to work 60 hours a week just to pay the bills.

“We were managing. Macaroni and cheese was good,” said Freilinger with a smile.

But the situation got worse when Freilinger found out her young son had a terrible infection. Doctor’s bills were very expensive, and antibiotics for the bacterial infection took every penny the family had for rent and food.

When negotiations with the landlord turned sour, Freilinger packed up her belongings and moved into a friend’s house.

Throughout the next several months, the two moved several times, still unable to afford a place of their own. Governmental officials told Freilinger she did not qualify for government assistance. After living in her car for a few weeks, Freilinger decided there was only one alternative left. With all of her resources exhausted, Freilinger and her son moved into the local homeless shelter.

Freilinger hated the shelter because she said she never felt safe, and the people made her uncomfortable.”You just never knew if your items were going to be safe, or if someone was going to molest your kid,” said Freilinger.

She felt as if she had hit the bottom of the barrel, homeless and alone.

A short time later, things began to look up for the family when she got word governmental housing had come through. Just a month before she gave birth, Freilinger moved into her own place.”That really strengthened my belief that miracles can happen,” she said.

Deciding that she wanted to take control of her life and turn things around, Freilinger took out various loans and applied for numerous scholarships. She then began her education at St. Cloud State University with intentions to join the nursing field.

She was working full time and going to school when another miracle snuck her way. A sociology professor was working on a grant for ethnic studies, and needed an assistant. Freilinger accepted a job testing program objectives for the professor. From there, Freilinger decided to pursue a degree in sociology.

Freilinger eventually moved to Brookings, and now works for the sociology department at SDSU. She felt that this would be a good place to raise her two children.

Freilinger remains optimistic about the future, and plans to travel to South Africa next year to write her dissertation on miners and racial oppression.

“I have hope for the future. I have high hopes of becoming a professor, and making a difference in other’s lives,” said Freilinger.

#1.884714:3033641574.jpg:homeless_aa.jpg:Miracles happen on the rocky road Freilinger traveled. Brookings is now where she calls home.:Amber Armstrong