By KAREN FISHDENBERG (NBC News) As a young girl, Karen Fisher loved to read.
When she was 14, her family moved from Texas to Florida.
“I’d just read some of my favorite books, and I’d just be sitting on the couch,” Fisher says.
“We would be reading together and it just kind of fell into place.
And we had such a love for each other, and it was just something I just wanted to keep doing.”
A few months after leaving Texas, Fisher found herself on a beach in the Bahamas with a friend.
She says the two friends found the group of boys they had met at the beach.
“They were just like, ‘Hi, how are you?’
And I was like, I’m really happy to see you,” Fisher remembers.
“And they were like, and ‘How are you doing?'”
One of the boys, an older one, asked, “Are you looking for a banana?”
“Well, I guess so.
And he was like ‘You know, we just saw you at a banana stand,'” Fisher remembers him saying.
“He was like: ‘Oh, you’re a big banana guy,’ ” Fisher says she said.
The boys were so excited to meet her that they wanted to try their luck at a local banana stand, where they found themselves with a job and a girlfriend.
Fisher said she thought of herself as a “pretty good girl” and she would go for the jobs, but when her parents told her she was going to be a mother, she was scared.
She said she couldn’t understand why she couldn´t do the job.
She felt trapped.
“That is a very hard time for me,” Fisher said.
She had just turned 14 when she was arrested and sent to prison.
“A beautiful, beautiful girl,” is how her parents described her in court.
She was then sentenced to six years in prison and given two years probation, which she served in her 20s.
When Fisher went to the prison, she went through a “crisis of identity,” she said, feeling like a fraud.
“It was really hard,” she told NBC News.
“But I felt like I had to keep going.”
Her story is a sad one, but it’s one Fisher has been through a lot.
She’s spent years in and out of prison, mostly for marijuana possession.
She worked in construction, but also in a small food service company that provided food to people who were homeless.
She eventually had to move to New York and get her GED, but she kept her job and her life together.
She and her partner had a young son, and the family had no money.
“As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I had no choice but to go through the process of trying to find a place for him to live and a way to pay for him,” Fisher told NBC’s TODAY show.
“There was nowhere I could go.
And so I started to go back to school, and found that it was not the same.”
She eventually got her GEd and enrolled at Columbia University, where she worked in the public school system for seven years.
“At the beginning of my time at Columbia, I found it difficult to find work,” she says.
But she said she made the best of her situation, taking advantage of the work-study program and doing volunteer work with the city.
She went back to work in construction.
“In the beginning, it was hard, but I found myself working very hard,” Fisher recalled.
“One day, the company was trying to get rid of me because they didn’t like the work I was doing.”
So Fisher moved to New Jersey, where her son and daughter lived.
She began working at a construction company there, but after a year, she started working full time at her job at the construction company.
“You see these girls working their butt off.
I had been doing this full time for seven or eight years.
It was amazing to me that I could do it,” Fisher recalls of her work at Columbia.
After a year at the company, she and her husband divorced.
She married a lawyer who she says worked hard to keep her financially stable.
She started a family.
“She was a very successful person and I have no doubt she would have done anything in the world for her kids,” Fisher tells TODAY.
“All I wanted was for her to get a good job and get a job she would love, and that’s what I was given.
I would be the best mom to them.”
Her children are now adults.
Fisher now has a full-time job and three kids of her own.
“What I would tell anybody is: Don’t give up on your kids,” she added.
“Don’t give in to their dreams.”
Fisher had always loved going to college and was excited