By: Lauren Garabedian
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- Tara Westover recalled her journey to get an education in her first book titled, “Educated,” which is a memoir that debuted in 2018 and became number one on The NY Times Bestseller’s List. Born in the mountains of Clifton, Idaho, she was raised with rigid ideologies with an isolation from mainstream society. Her parents, Gene and Faye Westover, which are pseudonyms, raised their children to be survivalists.
Faye Westover, was raised in a cookie cutter family with a white picket fence. She was exhausted from her mother’s expectations for social appearances that she abandoned all she knew and married Gene, a mormon who devotes his life to preparing for the “End of Days.” Westover spent her days working in her father’s junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother. According to Westover, she thinks her dad started to have bipolar disorder when he pulled Westover’s older siblings out of school. He didn’t home-school his children because he believed the illuminati was trying to infiltrate the minds of his children through education- especially at public school systems.
He became fearful of hospitals, schools, education and the government and tried to live off the grid. Her parents traded in all of their money for silver coins in preparations for when the government fails the people. Westover would sleep with a survival backpack for months incase the FBI came to raid their home. At one point she recalled being nine years old when her mom decided to finally get her birth certificate and estimated her birthday to be between Sept. 27-29, 1986. Westover never saw a doctor or nurse.
Gashes, concussions and even burns from explosions were all treated at home with herbalism. She never attended school and became self-taught by reading the few books her family had. Her education was erratic and incomplete. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom and then pursued learning for a decade. According to her website, http://www.tarawestover.com, she graduated “magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and subsequently won a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.
Her courageous testimonial is worth the read and allows the audience to appreciate educational opportunities. Her tale of escape is filled with ideological mania that never lessened her thirst for an education and to discover the world passed the mountains of Idaho.