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.
Seven years ago, Karen Narvaez arrived in the United States from Nicaragua with little knowledge of the English language, but with a strong thirst for knowledge and a drive to succeed. After seeking out basic English courses, she was referred to The Excel Center by a friend in 2015. Unsure at the time of her ultimate career and education goals, Karen enrolled at The Excel Center part-time, with the idea that earning her diploma would help improve her fluency in English. However, Karen’s motivation soon began to change. Despite a transportation barrier, she set — and accomplished — her goal of attending school every day, and even completed her courses at the top of her class in Anderson.
Mohammed Alhamwi’s journey to The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults, begins more than 6,000 miles away in his home country of Syria. Like many Syrians, his family was forced to flee as a result of the country’s civil war. As refugees in Jordan, they weren’t permitted to pursue employment or education which left them unable to build a life there. It seemed as if Mohammed’s family was in a perpetual limbo. They connected with Exodus Refugee Project and steadily worked for a more permanent placement. After several years in this limbo state, they received word that they were being placed in the U.S.
Pency Engmawii grew up with 11 siblings in a small Burmese village where education was difficult to acquire without wealth. Education is also approached differently in her home country.
Grace is a typical 5-year-old who likes to play dress up and watch cartoons on YouTube. She’s healthy, has lots of friends and has hit every developmental milestone since infancy. She’s eager to start kindergarten. Each of these things is a small miracle given that her mother’s journey to Indianapolis began 20 years ago and more than 8,000 miles away.
Born in California, Leticia Ibarra finished middle school before her family relocated to Mexico.
Coming to the United States from a different country can present many obstacles but also opportunities. For Dior Thioune, 30, one of her opportunities was education.
Lisa Sledge's first client, in 2011, was a 19-year-old, married Burmese woman referred to Nurse-Family Partnership by a Southside high school. Lisa immediately decided an honest approach was best, "Forgive my ignorance," she said, "but I don't know much about your culture."