EASTERN HANCOCK — High school graduation can fill seniors with many emotions, including fear. It’s not uncommon for soon-to-be graduates to have anxiety about life after years of structured schooling.

For Eastern Hancock High School senior Breawna Taulbee, overcoming difficult feelings that can accompany graduation will be just another step on a road less traveled, where she’s traversed some rocky roads in less-than-ideal situations.

Just a few days before graduation, slated for Saturday, June 4, Bre noted she is excited about one of the biggest days of her life as well as being a little unsure.

“Graduation means you’re really an adult,” Bre said. “I mean, really an adult.”

Like many of her classmates in the Eastern Hancock High School Class of 2022, Bre will head off to college in the fall. She plans to attend Ivy Tech in the Anderson, Muncie area where she’ll do some work in order to apply to a dental hygiene program down the road. She’s already landed a summer job at a dentist’s office in Pendleton and is certain of her future goals in the profession.

It’s quite an accomplishment from a young woman who has overcome difficult odds where most in her shoes would not have succeeded.

Bre, 18, lived with her mother when she first started high school, but watched in disbelief as her half sister was taken away by the girl’s father when her mother went through serious drug issues. Bre moved in with her grandmother on her dad’s side of the family and tried to deal with the setbacks as best she could.

“I had to end up going to therapy and being put on medication,” Bre said. “It was not a swell start to high school.”

Unfortunately, issues grew as Bre had to battle through an eating disorder while she dealt with feelings of being overwhelmed.

During Bre’s sophomore year, she found her footing, getting good grades and playing sports for the Royals, but then COVID hit, further isolating the young teen.

“I had a lot of upperclassmen who were my friends, and it was upsetting not to be able to see them their senior year,” she said.

The year ended up being a total blur for Bre thanks to the pandemic, coupled with Bre’s mother being in and out of jail for drug issues.

However, heading into her junior year, Bre said she’d had enough. The young girl determined if she was every going to have a good life — something she longed for — it was going to be up to her to take charge and move forward with real change.

“I made my mind up,” Bre said. “I am not going to end up like some who are forced to live with their parents when they’re older.”

Bre enrolled in classes through the district’s early college program and started feeling comfortable, even confident in the classroom despite dealing with repressed memories from her childhood.

“That took a toll on me, but my junior year was my ‘pow wow’ moment,” she said. “I just told myself I was going to get the grades to get out of here and get what I want.”

During her junior year, Bre started studies with the dental program being offered through the New Castle Career Center, and it changed her life.

“That’s where I blossomed,” she said. “Me and my friends who took the classes, we all grew so much.”

She also played volleyball for the Royals her junior year and started working part-time.

“I just had such a great time,” Bre said. “I even made honor roll, something I never thought I could do.”

Bre kept the good vibes rolling her senior year in the classroom and on the volleyball court. Her grandmother, Hannah Taulbee, helped her get a car and has supported her throughout, including her senior year.

“It was hard to be finished with volleyball because it was such a big passion of mine,” Bre said.

While she still struggles sometimes with classroom anxiety, getting a head start in early college programs has helped her realize she can make it through the rest of college in the coming years.

“I was thinking there were going to be a lot of older kids in those early college programs I took at Ivy Tech, but it was really just a lot of kids like me, and that was very beneficial,” she said. “I was getting real experience, but with friends.”

She’ll graduate high school with 16 college credits earning mostly As and Bs. Once she finishes her dental hygiene training in college, she’s confident she’ll be able to get a job in the field she truly enjoys. Bre credits her grandmothers on both sides of her family who have supported her emotionally and financially for helping her get through high school.

“The grandmother I live with knows when I make a decision, it’s going to be one I’ve thought about and is going to be something that helps me,” Bre said. “I learn from my decisions if it’s right or if it’s wrong.”

The support she’s gotten from trained therapists as well as school officials who worked with her to make sure she didn’t lose out on her high school years was also key.

“I love our principal,” Bre said. “Mr. (Adam) Barton is a great guy, and you can tell he really cares about the students and our school.”

Bre knows she’s come a long way with more to conquer and while the future can be scary, she knows she has the strength to more forward as a young adult.

“I’m pretty independent now, and while I do still need some help with some things, there is a lot I can do on my own,” she said.”

Her outlook these next few months before college is to enjoy this summer while she’s still technically a kid.

“I did have to grow up fast and mature at a young age, but I still want to be a teenager some before I really am an adult,” she said.