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Appearing Before the Bar

A non-traditional Boise State student tackles tuition in a non-traditional way.



Of the 20,000 students returning to class at Boise State--which prides itself as having a large number of nontraditional students--it's quite possible that a 31-year-old Boise woman is the most atypical.

Start with the fact that she's a single mother of three. Then consider that she's an eighth-grade drop-out, who did not complete her GED until 2003, after having all of her children. Today she's a year away from a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance, and she's already applying to law schools.

What makes her truly nontraditional is how she pays for her tuition, books, food and the rest of her expenses--by taking her clothes off in front of strangers. Camy (who asked that we not use her last name) works at a Boise bikini bar with as many as 70 other female dancers, many of them students.

"It helps pay the bills, and we have a flexible schedule," said Camy. "As long as you work at least seven hours, you can go home when you want. That's why there are so many dancers who are students."

Camy said she works one night a week as a dancer and that pays the month's bills. In addition to raising three girls (she has full custody), her college tuition is more than $2,000 this fall, with books costing $600-$1,000 per semester.

Camy said she didn't always want to be a lawyer, or a dancer, for that matter. In fact, she simply couldn't pay her rent when she first walked into an Oregon strip joint in 2001, asking for a job. She started dancing in Boise in 2005 and shortly after that registered for courses at Treasure Valley Community College. This fall, she is taking 20 credit hours at Boise State, and she is on schedule to graduate in the summer of 2012.

"Right after graduation, I'll take the Certified Public Accountant exam, hopefully get an accounting job, and if all goes as planned, I'll start law school in the spring of 2013," she said.

Camy admits that her workplace is anything but ordinary.

"Honestly, you get 30 girls in one spot, and there's going to be a lot of drama," she said. "The girls are quite competitive. Some of them make serious money."

Camy said she depends on her "radar" to keep her out of any trouble.

"Within the first couple of minutes, I can tell if a guy is going to be a problem," she said.

It helps that her boyfriend of five years is never more than several feet away, working security. Justin, who also didn't want us to use his last name, said watching his girlfriend dance in front of other men is "just a job."

"I know it's getting us to where we want to be," he said. Justin is also heading back to school this fall, taking courses in finance at the College of Western Idaho.

"But for now, we're going to do this until we have, let's say, real careers."

Camy and Justin talk about marriage often, with hopes to tie the knot in four years, "after law school."

"I want to do this for another year," said Camy. "I'll stop dancing when I graduate from Boise State. Then, hopefully, I'm off to law school."

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