2015 Makayla Hout

Makayla Hout offers a philosophy of life based on her experiences coping with sexual, emotional, and physical abuse.  “Each obstacle in life offers you a decision,” she says, “the decision to become a negative product of your environment or to learn and get motivation from what you have overcome.”

As she continues to learn how to adjust to her changing environment, Makayla maintains her motivation to graduate from high school and attend college. Even though she realizes attending college isn’t a guarantee for a happy and successful life, she has witnessed the struggles of those who didn’t attend college and values education as the pathway to a better life.

Makayla’s story is a dark one.  For many years, she lived with her mother, sisters and brothers in Morton, Minnesota.  But eventually her mother gave up her parental rights.  Feeling abandoned, Makayla craved a parental relationship.  She decided to seek out her father, whom she didn’t know.  She was successful in connecting with him and when she was 14, she moved to St. Paul to live with him.  It wasn’t long before the physical and sexual abuse began.

Makayla describes her father as two different people – one was abusive, the other was a providing father who seemed to be the only person who cared about her.  She struggled with guilt and fear.  She knew she should tell someone about the abuse but she was afraid of what would happen to her after she told.

It was another fear -- that of failing school -- that prompted Makayla to open up.  Makayla was failing nearly every class, primarily due to absenteeism.  Her father, Makayla explains, would frequently keep her home or pull her out of class.  She had missed nearly 400 classes since her freshman year.  Even though she managed to produce decent grades on the tests and the assignments she was able to turn in, she couldn’t make up for all the missing work.  In the middle of her junior year, Makayla’s counselor met with Makayla to discuss her grades and what her low GPA might mean in terms of college. Makayla was clearly upset and after a few more meetings with her counselor, finally disclosed the abuse. She was immediately removed from her home and a new phase of life began. 

Since reporting the abuse, life has not been easy for Makayla but she does feel that she is in more control of her destiny.  She has lived in two different foster homes since last March, but has been able to keep attending Como Park High School with a perfect attendance record.  She has put in many hours to improve her grades and is now earning mostly A’s on her tests and assignments.  She works part-time at a McDonald’s and in the summer she adds work at a recreation center.  She enjoys earning and managing her own money.  Her father pled guilty to the abuse charges and is currently in prison. Makayla undergoes counseling to learn how to deal with issues of distrust and fear.

For Makayla, the future looks brighter than the past.  She has been accepted to the University of Minnesota-Mankato where she plans to study psychology.  She hopes one day to work with kids who have experienced abuse.   If she could wave a magic wand and make life better, she says she would provide a “safe place” for all children to go.  Her advice to others facing adversity is “to never give up.  You have to believe you have a future.”