Anyone who has spent time at The Excel Center® in Clarksville during the last three years knows Ana Gonzalez, but not many know the full story behind her path to Goodwill. Ana is the director of the Young Learner’s Child Care (YLCC) in Clarksville, where her time is split between planning each day’s activities and putting those plans into action. Years before her time at Goodwill, Ana’s journey began in her small hometown in Mexico. She enjoyed her childhood, but as the region grew more complicated with heavy cartel presence, her family decided to move to the United States.
Faith Hicks is a junior at Indianapolis Metropolitan High School who initially enrolled as a freshman a few years ago. Perhaps it’s her tenure at the school that gives her an air of confidence as she walks with her peers through the Indy Met hallways, but right away, it’s easy to see that Faith is one-of-a-kind.
Laura Torres moved to Indiana at 22 years old without an education and spoke only Spanish. Today, Laura speaks fluent English, is finishing her high school diploma through The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s tuition-free high school for adults, and is pursuing a degree in psychology after she graduates.
October is National Dropout Awareness Month. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 12% of Hoosier working-age adults lack a high school diploma. The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s free high school for adults, is working to decrease that rate by providing adult students the opportunity to pick up where they left off in school, providing support and resources to meet their academic and career goals.
“Sitting and staring at a wall for six months really messes with you,” said Indianapolis Met High School senior Fayia Samba.
Goodwill strongly believes it is essential to raise education attainment levels in Indiana. Not only are the lifetime earnings of high school graduates significantly higher than those of individuals who have left school, but the children of high school graduates are also 50% less likely to leave high school themselves. Goodwill provides opportunities for both adults and youth through The Excel Center® and Indianapolis Metropolitan High School.
Audrey Land has been working for Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana for the past four years and shows incredible drive and dedication — both individually and professionally — as she follows her career goals at Goodwill.
Zainab Khawaja was born in Pakistan, raised in Saudi Arabia, and at 20 years old moved to Indianapolis to pursue her education. This summer, she will be teaching at The Excel Center® campus where she received her high school diploma in 2018.
Sarah Verhines graduated from The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults, in January 2020 at 26 years old while working full time and expecting her first child. Even though she was top 15 in her original high school class, circumstances beyond her control prevented her from graduating.
Goodwill’s education division proudly celebrates over 300 new high school graduates this month! Indianapolis Met High School celebrated their newest class of graduates on June 5, and The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s free high school for adults, will recognize its Class of 2021 across 15 ceremonies this weekend.