2015 Archives

Homeless as a teen, 41-year-old SMU student leaves addiction far behind

Excerpt

The following is from the Oct. 8, 2015, edition of The Dallas Morning News.

October 13, 2015

By NAHEED RAJWANI
Staff Writer

Wendy Birdsall wears her SMU-themed sunglasses almost everywhere she goes.

Wendy Birdsall
Wendy Birdsall

(Photo by Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

The black-and-red glasses, with the motto “World changers shaped here,” represent a new life for Birdsall, who was homeless at 16 and a repeat felon and drug addict by her late 20s.

She’s been clean since 2010, and now, at age 41, she’s studying biology at SMU.

“They say that SMU breeds world changers,” Birdsall said. “I don’t know if I’m going to be a world changer, but I’m definitely a game changer.”

Birdsall isn’t ashamed to talk about her past. She believes she’s a stronger, more driven person because of it.

When Birdsall was about 14, she and her two younger sisters moved from Southern California to North Texas with their mother. Their mother and father divorced soon after.​

Within two years, Birdsall found herself without a home after her mother kicked her out one night.

A few days later, Birdsall returned to her family’s Hurst apartment to find that her mom and sisters had moved out.

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