When KBIA and the Columbia Missourian first met Monica Smith in 2012, she was a senior in high school in Higginsville, Missouri. Smith was consumed with school, work and so many extra curriculars she couldn’t keep count. People found it surprising that at 18 Monica kept straight A’s, worked and participated in sports when they found out what she had gone through.
She lived with her parents until she was 8. In 2002, her parents, Sabrina and Eric Smith, were arrested for operating a methamphetamine lab in their basement. After living in a foster home for a brief time, Monica moved in with her grandparents and stayed with them through adolescence.
As part of the My Life, My Town project, producers documented Monica’s story in 2012.
In 2015, the My Life My Town project decided to re-visit Monica to see how her life had changed.
When our producers caught up with her at the beginning of her sophomore year at the University of Central Missouri, Monica’s life looked much like the one many college students share. She was renting a house with her boyfriend, Dylan, and two of their friends. They would stay up late playing video games, watching movies and talking about Pizza Hut, where they worked.
Then in November, Monica’s parents asked her to take guardianship of her 7-year-old sister, Gracie. Up to this point, Gracie had been living with a family friend, but her parents felt the friend was trying to keep them away from the little girl, so they asked for Monica’s help. Monica agreed.
Here is the follow-up My Life, My Town documentary of Monica Smith, produced in 2015.
My Life, My Town is a series of films dedicated to giving teens a chance to tell their stories about growing up in rural areas or small towns in Missouri. It is a continuing collaboration between the Columbia Missourian and KBIA.
Portions of the text of this article were written by the Columbia Missourian.