Amber Copley is a proud high school graduate at the age of 23. She initially dropped out of school when she was a junior in high school, at the age of 16, due to emotional and financial difficulties.“My family moved around a lot, so I was the ‘new kid’ and dealt with quite a bit of bullying at my first high school,” Amber said. “It was really hard for me to make friends.”
Amber also decided to work full-time to support her family.
“My family was dealing with some financial issues, so I dropped out of school to support them,” Amber said. “Since I was 16 already, I was able to get a position at McDonald’s working from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. most days.”
While finding employment seemed easy for Amber, mastering social interactions took a bit more practice.
“I have been diagnosed with severe anxiety but refuse to be put on medication for it,” Amber said. “So throughout the day, every day, I deal with anxiety attacks.”
Over time, Amber learned some coping skills that help her prevent attacks before they occur.
“Sometimes I have to excuse myself from different situations so I can splash cold water on my face to help calm me down,” Amber said. “I also have learned different breathing techniques that help me prevent my attacks.”
When Amber turned 20, she discovered that she was pregnant with her daughter. Child care — and balancing employment — became another challenge for her to overcome.
“My mother is my saving grace when it comes to child care,” Amber said. “Without my mom’s help, I would not have been able to pursue my next step.”
After the birth of her daughter, Amber found steady, full-time employment. She enjoyed her work but was suddenly terminated. Her employer uncovered that she had not graduated from high school.
“My employer was really nice about it,” Amber said. “They told me that I was doing a great job, and I could come back, but I needed my high school education first.”
Amber learned about The Excel Center® from a family member and was one of the first students to enroll at the Muncie location, which opened in July 2018.
“The support has been unbelievable from day one,” Amber said. “It was nothing like my first high school experience— the teachers and other students all root for you.”
In addition to offering a Core 40 diploma, The Excel Center provides students the opportunity to earn college credits and industry-recognized certifications at no cost. Amber graduated with dual credits in English 111 and plans to enroll in college this fall with a concentration in social work. She officially crosses the stage February 2019 as a high school graduate.
“I am just so grateful for the chance to make my life and my daughter’s life even better,” Amber said. “Being a graduate just opens up so many new doors for us.”