The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults, will celebrate its newest graduating class this December at various locations across central and southern Indiana.
In addition to providing adults the opportunity to finish their Core 40 high school diploma, The Excel Center offers students college credits and industry certifications - all at no cost - so they can pursue a career post-graduation. For example, graduate Shanalin Connery became a certified medical assistant through The Excel Center and now works for St. Vincent Ascension Hospital in the OBGYN office while attending college full time to obtain her degree to become a Registered Nurse.
As a teenager, Shanalin, who is now 31, was driven and ambitious, but she grew up in an unstable environment. She was forced out of her home at the young age of 17.
Shanalin was living on her own and working full-time to make ends meet. She became pregnant with her son and had to leave high school. With big dreams ahead of her, she wanted to finish school and continue her education. However, taking care of her son was her priority, so her education had to be put on the back burner for the time being.
“It was disheartening,” Shanalin said. “I had big ambitions, and I worked hard to provide stability for my family, but without a diploma, I could never find a job that paid a decent salary. I was stuck living off $2.15 per hour, plus whatever I could make in tips.”
Shanalin was able to maintain this schedule for a while, but her hardships continued into her twenties.
“By the time I was 24, I had four kids, was in an abusive relationship and had no additional help,” Shanalin continued. “I didn't know how I was going to get by”.
A couple of years later, one of Shanalin’s brothers told her about a new school he was attending called The Excel Center®. He had just started attending at the Noblesville campus and encouraged her to attend at the location near her home in Richmond. They made a pact to finish their diplomas together. Sadly, she lost her brother a few months later to illness, but his encouragement remained with her.
“I told myself that I had made a promise to him to go back to school and finish, so I did just that. In June 2016, I enrolled at The Excel Center. With the help of my amazing teachers and coach, I graduated with honors and dual college credits. I walked across that stage and accepted my diploma. With tears streaming down my face, I told my baby brother that we did it.”
As part of the graduation requirements for The Excel Center, each student must participate in a Senior Seminar course and present on a career field that interests them. Shanalin’s presentation on phlebotomy led to a conversation with her coach, Brandy, about pursuing a career as a certified medical assistant.
Within just a few months, Shanalin had completed her certification course at the top of her class and passed her exam with a job offer from a local hospital. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shanalin was one of the first faces patients would see as she helped administer COVID testing for over 2,000 individuals.
Today she works for St. Vincent Ascension Hospital in the OBGYN office while attending college full-time to obtain her degree to become a Registered Nurse. Ambitious as ever, the dream doesn’t stop there as she contemplates one day earning her doctorate in medicine.
“If you would have told me ten years ago that today I'd be where I am now working, in a field I absolutely love, I would have laughed. This life is like a dream come true, and I would not be able to be where I am today if it was not for the support and guidance of The Excel Center. I am forever thankful for them. They changed my life.”
To learn more about our graduation ceremonies or our schools, visit excelcenter.org.