- Associated Press - Saturday, June 20, 2015

GALESBURG, Ill. (AP) - College can be a stressful time in a young person’s life but most students don’t go through the adversity Carl Sandburg College student Stephanie Saey faced.

Saey went to DePaul University on a full scholarship running cross country last year, but only made it two months into her first trimester of classes.

“I had an eating disorder,” Saey said. “I struggle with binge eating disorder and depression and anxiety. I kind of took the year off to get better and it’s something I’ve been struggling with since I was younger.”

Saey said she took the year to get her treatment and collect herself, something that would have been extremely difficult to do while enrolled at DePaul.

“Binge eating disorder is different than most eating disorders in that it was hard for me to come home and have access to all of the food that was around me,” Saey said. “It was almost like that was my drug. In treatment I was very sheltered and I didn’t have that access so it was really rough and this past year has just kind of been a learning experience. It’s been really difficult, but it’s been nice to be with my family. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to come from treatment and hopped right back into going to a university.”

But after taking the year to work on herself, Saey is back in school, and will graduate from Sandburg with an associate degree and plans to continue her education past her undergraduate work. Commencement is at 7 tonight in Hegg Auditorium at Galesburg High School. The ceremony also combines with those receiving their GEDs.

“It doesn’t really feel like graduation since I’ll have seven more years of school. I’m going to Monmouth (College) next year and I’ll be there for three years and I was lucky to get a scholarship there,” she said.

“Then hopefully go on to medical school or graduate school.”

Saey plans to major in biochemistry and hopefully double major in biopsychology. Her educational and professional goals have been fueled by coping with her disorder.

“Definitely, since it’s been something I’ve struggled with since I was younger, the depression and anxiety,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do something like this. The mental health field is very fascinating, research-wise.

“My struggle and going through it will only make me that much smarter and able to relate to my patients.”

Saey says her plans are “subject to change,” but she seems to have a strong handle on the person she wants to grow up to be. The former Galesburg High School cross country runner already has signed up for Monmouth’s SOFIA (Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activities) Project, a research program that allows students to work on in-depth research projects before school starts. Saey will head to Monmouth three weeks ahead of time, and said she’s choosing between a statistics and a biopsychology project.

Along with the summer venture, she’s been awarded the Wallace Founders Scholarship to fully cover her education for the next three years at Monmouth. The scholarship is awarded from the college to incoming transfer students after a vigorous essay, application and interview process.

After her three years at Monmouth, Saey hopes to continue her education to one day open her own clinic to help patients going through similar situations.

“My goal is to go somewhere more rural with cities like Galesburg and Peoria,” Saey said, “possibly open up my own treatment center or psychiatric care center because I feel like most people, to get good treatment, you have to go to these bigger cities.

“When I went to Peoria, I was not pleased,” Saey continued to say. “They didn’t help me at all. It would have been nice to go to somewhere that was really close and get a quality care treatment.”

Saey is graduating with her associate in science after just one year of classes at Sandburg, helped in part by advanced placement credits she earned in high school.

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Source: The (Galesburg) Register-Mail, http://bit.ly/1FsnVKF

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Information from: The Register-Mail, http://www.register-mail.com

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