Once homeless, woman is now award-winning student at WSU

OGDEN, Utah – A few years ago, Jessica Stratton was living in her car with $2.08 to her name. Now she’s a 4.0 student studying computer science at Weber State University, and last month received the Student Pathway Award from Women Tech Council. 

Stratton left a turbulent home at 18. There were stretches when she survived on cereal, showering at a gym and sleeping only every other night because she worked graveyard shifts – all while trying to save money to reach her dream of going to college. 

“At that time, I could eat, or I could go to school,” she said. “School got put on the back burner. I kept telling myself, when things get a little bit smoother, when I get a raise, then I’ll start looking at school.”

After living in her car, Stratton said she “upgraded to a futon” in a friend’s basement before securing a one-bedroom apartment.

Losing her mother to ovarian cancer in 2020 renewed Stratton’s desire for higher education – something her mother instilled in her and her four siblings from an early age.

“We started doing times tables in kindergarten,” Stratton said. “My mother always said education was key, but she ended up passing away before she could see any of her kids get a college degree.”

Through financial aid and private scholarships, Stratton found her way to Weber State, where she’s honing the same passions she pursued as a child and throughout high school: all things computers.

“I looked into other universities, but I felt like a number to them – a test score, a GPA,” Stratton said. “But at Weber State, I feel valued as a person. Being here helped me see that I’m in charge of my own future.”

Stratton plans to graduate in 2025 and pursue a career that fuses technology and art. She also wants to inspire people of all backgrounds to believe in themselves.

“I’m not ashamed of my past – that’s still part of me,” she said. “It doesn't matter where you come from, as long as you know what you want and are moving forward.”


Bryan Magaña, public relations director
801-626-7948, bryanmagana@weber.edu


Bryan Magaña, public relations director
801-626-7948, bryanmagana@weber.edu