I Am Waters

Today is 06.04.2020

With A Hyundai And Strong Will, Homeless Woman, 40, Graduates From College | Manatee , Florida | Bay News 9

Shawna Machado has slept in parking lots and studied in coffee shops.

“I park at Walmart; that’s 24 hours,” she said. “I park at Starbucks; that’s 24 hours.”

For two years, Machado, 40, has been homeless after losing a well-paying job at a doctor’s office. She was let go shortly after the economy tanked. She didn’t have a degree to fall back on.

“I was not sleeping,” she said. “I would go days without sleeping, days without eating, because I wasn’t getting a call about a job. I wasn’t even getting calls for an interview.”

Machado decided to go to college at USF Sarasota-Manatee with only a computer and a car.

“I’m definitely more fortunate than a lot of people who are homeless, because I have a car,” she said.

Machado keeps all of her belongings in her Hyundai. She’s been able to afford to keep a vehicle by dog walking or house-sitting on the side. For two years, she has stayed in her car or with friends when possible. She’s taken showers in her school’s bathroom and caught sleep any chance she could.

“I don’t sleep more than three or four hours at a time, and most of the time three or four hours a day,” she said.

She says she would find a nice spot to sleep, such as a beach, when she could.

“Throw out a lawn chair, read a book, fall asleep,” she said. “Nobody questions it.”

Many of her professors didn’t even know about her situation. They found out this past weekend when she was named “Most Outstanding Graduate” in her class.