Since graduating from Ball State, DeAnn Day has spent her entire career helping students knock down barriers and achieve their dreams. Some of those dreams have included addressing basic needs like reliable housing, securing transportation, and earning a high school diploma. Some dreams, like a college education, are considered impossible by many students. Not so, according to DeAnn.
A College and Career Readiness Specialist at The Excel Center, Goodwill’s high school for adults, DeAnn works with students to achieve those impossible dreams. One of those students is Itzel “Stacy” Martinez, a recent graduate of The Excel Center who had her sights set on attending Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington.
“The Excel Center has supported me and continues to support me through their kindness and the emotional support,” said Stacy. “They are a family without being my family and I appreciate every single teacher that has been in my life and taught me something.”
As a student at The Excel Center, DeAnn helped Stacy with the college application and financial aid processes and connected her to Goodwill IGNITE, a program that provided funding assistance for Stacy to complete Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) training through Vincennes University. Upon completion of her training, Stacy worked with Goodwill’s TalentSource team to be placed in a paid clinical internship to complete her certification. Though her internship was cut short due to the onset of COVID-19, Goodwill IGNITE was able to help Stacy find a different paid position and provide assistance for her to purchase school supplies and books.
DeAnn also recommended Stacy apply for IU’s Groups Scholars Program, providing first-generation college students with the academic, financial and social support they need to succeed. In addition, Groups Scholars receive scholarships covering the full cost of tuition and room and board. With DeAnn’s support and guidance, Stacy was accepted to IU and admitted as an IU Groups Scholar, enabling her to complete her college degree with zero debt after graduation.
In August of 2020, DeAnn accompanied Stacy to IU and helped her move into her dorm. DeAnn also introduced her to Sabrea Townsend, a former student of DeAnn’s who graduated from The Excel Center in 2019. Sabrea is a sophomore at IU and current IU Groups Scholar who is pursuing a degree in nursing to become a nurse practitioner.
“The Excel Center has always supported me; from the time I came back to earn my diploma in 2017 and even today,” said Sabrea. “I wanted something different and more for myself, but Ms. DeAnn’s actions and encouragement gave me the push I needed. I didn’t see my potential, but she did and I’m forever grateful for that.”
With DeAnn’s lessons on paying it forward in mind, Sabrea happily met up with Stacy on move-in day to show her support. Sabrea also provided Stacy with her contact information, just in case Stacy needed a connection while in Bloomington. Stacy is now a thriving freshman at IU and is pursuing a degree in Finance.
“The opportunity to attend IU Bloomington really changed my mindset,” said Stacy. “It made me realize anything is possible and gave me hope in a way I had not felt before. This scholarship has helped me prove to my family and others that it’s possible to achieve your dream.”
DeAnn sees each student as important and unique, regardless of the size of their dreams. She always beams with pride and joy as she describes her students. Although, helping Stacy and Sabrea fulfill their dreams of attending IU will always be one of the highlights of her career.
“The impact a college degree will have on not only Stacy and Sabrea but on their families as well is enormous and lifelong,” said DeAnn. “I am incredibly proud to have been a part of their journeys.”
To learn more about The Excel Center or to enroll, visit https://excelcenter.org/.