Bellevue commencement speaker shares struggle with addiction

A Bellevue University graduate speaks on overcoming addiction
Published: Jan. 28, 2023 at 7:02 PM CST
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BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - It was an exciting day as Bellevue University celebrated its newest graduates at its winter ceremony.

If you ask Holly Porter, she never thought she’d make it to this day. She was chosen as the winter commencement speaker for this semester’s graduating class.

But earning her Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Sciences didn’t come easy. She struggled with addiction and infertility when she was just a teenager.

“So at 15 I started drinking and using marijuana and then it just escalated throughout that.” Porter said.

She tried using meth and at just 18 years old she was living out of her car.

“I used to sleep in my car across from the prison at the homeless shelter, because I was too scared to go into the homeless shelter. My pride was too big but I was living in my car,” says Porter, “My parents loved me very very much, but enough to where they couldn’t enable me. So I lost literally everything and everybody.”

After a few years of sobriety, she turned back to alcohol. But it would be the last time.

“Oct. 6, 2016, I decided that I was done. I was never going to pick up a drink again. I was going to be the mom I wanted, the counselor I wanted.”

At six years sober, she addressed her classmates, spreading the message of perseverance.

Now an alcohol and drug counselor, she’s spreading awareness and helping others overcome addiction.

Her family, friends, and young son proudly cheer her on.

“It’s ok to say ‘hey I need help.’ Even gray area drinkers of ‘maybe I have a problem but I haven’t hit rock bottom yet,’ they’re not alone, you’re not alone.”

Holly recently opened a facility based in Fremont that offers substance abuse counseling. She still works full time at Pinelake Behavioral Health and Medical.

Holly will further her education and plans to earn a master’s degree in psychology.