Brandie Bernstein cautions to not judge a book by its cover.

Should a person judge Bernstein now, he or she would see a married mother of three who lives in Littleton.

“You’d think I’m a suburban housewife,” she said.

Judge Bernstein from 18 years ago and, well, it would be easy to chalk her up as a lost cause.

“I guess the moral of the story is to believe in second chances,” she said. “Without a second chance … I wouldn't be where I am today.”

Where she is today remains a testament to hard work, her values and a Regis University community that helped her mature into a graduate.

Bernstein recently earned her Master of Science in Criminology degree.

Bernstein, though, wasn’t always on a path to success. She grew up in Aurora and at age 15 dropped out of school and ran away from home.

She landed in Seattle, bounced to Arizona and Arkansas. She lived on the streets, begged for food and money and even turned to drugs. At her lowest point, she attempted suicide.

Finally, at 17, she started getting her life together. She stopped hanging out with bad influences and saw a 9News special on drugs and addiction that changed everything.

“I sat and cried and cried and cried,” she said. “I told myself I’d never touch them again and I didn’t.”

She got sober, married, had her daughter and divorced. Then, in 2010 she decided to go to college, driven by the influence of her grandmother, a woman with a rock solid work ethic. She worked until the day breast cancer took her life.

“She was my inspiration,” Bernstein said.

After earning an undergraduate degree, Bernstein came to Regis in 2014 in search of a career with purpose. She pursued criminology because she wants to help others that may be going down her original path. She knows the value of another opportunity and how to turn that to redemption.

Now happily remarried with three children, Bernstein admits it sometimes doesn’t feel real. But from a second and third chance to now, she has embraced life and begun to answer the question of how she really wants to live.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “I’m ready to start a new chapter in my life.”

Watch 9News' story about Brandie and her journey toward her degree.

Learn how you can start a new chapter with a degree from Regis.