Erica Stoner

For Erica Stoner, life seemed to be one big argument.

One of her first memories was of her mother and father fighting. They divorced when Erica was very young, and she spent her childhood going back and forth between her mother and father’s homes. Erica’s relationship with her father was not easy, as he was often abusive. At eight years old, Erica was left with the responsibility of caring for her stepbrother and two stepsisters, as her father grew neglectful. After witnessing her father burn her stepbrother’s palm with a lighter, Erica decided to move in with her mother permanently.

Erica and her mother moved from Michigan to Tennessee. The move strained her already fragile relationship with her father. Contact with her father was soon completely lost, and Erica was unable to talk to her step-siblings and provide them with support.

Life in Tennessee was not any easier for Erica. Her stepfather became abusing, once again creating a tumultuous homelife for Erica. She took a job to help pay for her personal and school expenses. Her mother and stepfather split up and Erica and her mother lived in fear, often staying in hotels or temporary housing. As turmoil rippled through her family, Erica put aside her own problems and became a source of support and strength for her grandmother, aunts and uncles as they dealt with their own tragedies.

Erica graduated with a 3.7 GPA from Smyrna High School, where she was involved in Science Club and Beta Club. Erica currently attends Tennessee Technical University.