Connie Flores never wanted to drop out of school, let alone leave in eighth grade. But like thousands of other teenagers who never graduate high school in New Mexico - a state with one of the highest dropout rates in the nation - Flores didn't think she had a choice.
She'd been an A student in her early school years in Santa Clara, the small village near Silver City where she grew up.
"I loved school," she says. But when Flores reached fifth grade, she says her mother, an alcoholic, began to rage out of control. She alternately kicked Flores out of the house or disappeared on lengthy drinking sprees, leaving Flores in charge of her siblings. "I had to stay home from school to take care of my younger sisters," she says. "My littlest sister was still in diapers."
At 13, Flores moved in with her boyfriend to avoid the abuse at home. She ended up pregnant. At 14, she had a son and dropped out of school. Years of chaos, depression and meth addiction followed.