The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s tuition-free high school for adults, provided a priceless opportunity for Veronica McNeil to earn her high school diploma in a supportive environment.
“The energy is different from other schools,” said Veronica. “Every time I walk through the door, there are nice greetings and warm welcomes.”
The school’s positive energy has been an immense motivation for her to come to school every day. The Excel Center staff, including Veronica’s teachers, care about her presence in class and check in with her to ensure she keeps up with the curriculum and maintains her attendance.
To take care of her newborn daughter, Veronica dropped out of high school during her senior year. Nearly 13 years later, her daughter is one of her biggest motivations to return to school and earn her Core 40 diploma. She wants to be an inspiration to her four children and help them understand the importance of receiving an education.
While she works toward graduation, The Excel Center staff has accommodated her responsibilities as a mother.
“My life coach and my teachers understand that I’m an adult, and I have to take care of my responsibilities,” said Veronica. “I love that.”
Veronica has received additional support from the Justice-Involved Program throughout her schooling. This program is specially designed to help students with barriers connected to their experiences with the criminal justice system. For Veronica, the program was able to provide her with new housing opportunities and help her regain her driver’s license.
“The Justice-Involved Program makes me feel like an adult,” said Veronica. “It makes me feel like I am taking care of things and achieving my goals.”
Veronica has set more goals for the future, including earning dual credits to get a head start for college. She is expected to graduate from The Excel Center in February 2024; after graduation, she wants to further her education at a university and receive her law degree.
For now, Veronica is looking forward to her graduation and all the benefits earning her diploma will have on her mental and emotional well-being.
“Once I graduate, it will feel like I’m unlocking another level in my life,” said Veronica. “It’s going to be a rebirth for me.”