EC woman pursues life outside Amish family - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

EC woman breaks from tradition as she pursues life outside Amish family


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Here in western Wisconsin many of us wouldn't be too shocked to see a horse drawn buggy roll through our town, we know there are Amish communities mixed into our rural communities.  One Eau Claire woman is breaking from tradition, as she pursues a life outside of her Amish family.

When she's not busy studying or working her job at Menards, 26-year-old Sarah Borntreger volunteers her time at the Trinity Equestrian Center in Eau Claire.

"I'm definitely a country girl. Growing up on a farm, we had horses, we had cows, no electricity, no TV, none of that," says Sarah.   

She says the equestrian center is a place that reminds her of home. "I just love horses and I think that's what made it so easy for me to come out here and just do everything out here because I'm used to it and it's something familiar to me."

Nearly eight years ago, Sarah made the decision to leave her Amish community behind for a modern world. "My reason for leaving the family was because I wanted to explore. I always knew when I was growing up that there was more to life than I knew about. It was tough because I knew I was losing family," she says.  

Sarah grew up with 23 other siblings. She says, "My mom had nine kids, I was number seven. And then when she got re-married to my step dad, he had eleven and then after they were married they had four more girls."

Growing up, the furthest she ever went in school was the eighth grade. "I personally wish I could have gone to high school. I think that it would have been awesome if I'd had the opportunity. But, I understand that my parents had a certain lifestyle that they followed and they're grandparents followed that so they're just trying to keep the tradition going."

But she says in the time since she's left home, she's learned the value of education. This May, she crossed the stage at Chippewa Valley Technical College with her GED.

Jill Mayer, the chair for the college's Adult Education Service's Department, says, "I've never worked with a student who came from an Amish community and Sarah when she came told me she had only completed the eight grade so there was some skill building  with social studies and some information she really hadn't been exposed to."

Sarah doesn't plan to waste any time taking her hard earned GED to the next level, she'll be right back at CVTC this fall to begin work on her nursing degree."

Sarah says, "The reason I want to do nursing is because my mom has always wanted to be a nurse. Hopefully I'll be able to help her fulfill her dream, or feel like she fulfilled her dream  by me doing it. And I've always been her little helper when kids were hurt, she could always depend on me too."

Sarah says the traits that were instilled in her as a child are another reason she's inspired to become a nurse. 

"In the Amish community when something happens, they give in the community to help each other out. So that 's what I've learned is to be a giver."

Sarah says she keeps in touch with her family, who now lives in Iowa, through letters and occasionally a phone call. 

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