At 17 years old, many teenagers are focused on things like prom and hanging out with friends. Sarah Siegel’s teenage years were spent a little differently, however, when she suddenly found herself living on her own during her sophomore year of high school.
Referred to Goodwill’s New Beginnings program by his parole officer in 2017, Christopher Holifield was determined to make a change, for himself as well as his children.
DeShawn Minor reflects on his early youth as a difficult time. He didn’t fully understand how his actions impacted those around him, especially his mom and younger siblings. He describes how he had anger issues and “goofed off” a lot at school, resulting in several suspensions and finally, expulsion. He was placed into a group home as a teen and an alternative school in another city.
Jessica Posadas was finishing her senior year at Crispus Attucks High School when she learned she was pregnant with her son Byron, now one year old. She was one of only two students selected for a Simon Foundation Scholarship. Jessica kept her sights set on her goals and leveraged her support systems to ensure she stayed on track with her education.
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.
Novah Norris Campbell was a junior in high school when she learned she was pregnant. At 14 weeks, she enrolled in Goodwill’s Nurse-Family Partnership, a program that pairs first-time, low-income moms with a registered nurse who helps them achieve a healthy pregnancy and provide competent care for their babies.
Jasmine Bible was 17 years old when she got her first job as a cashier at Goodwill. She struggled with finding reliable transportation, stable housing and dependable child care for her son with special needs. Eager to advance her career, Jasmine took advantage of every opportunity available to her through Goodwill.
Marion Thompson beamed with pride as her daughter, Ti’Sharon Thompson, was honored with Indianapolis Metropolitan High School’s Outstanding Student Achievement Award in 2017. Ti’Sharon also earned a scholarship from Lilly Endowment Inc., which covers her full tuition for all four years of college. She is currently attending Indiana University.
In 1991, twin brothers Troy and Garrett Wilson were born three months premature, weighing barely more than two pounds each. Troy jokes that he’s older — having arrived five minutes earlier.
Getting an education does not come easy for everyone. Situations that we cannot control, such as family illness or relocating for employment, impact many individuals’ academic progress.
In 2010, Goodwill opened The Excel Center®, a public charter school for adults who want to earn an Indiana Core 40 diploma. The Excel Center is designed to address educational barriers and to accelerate coursework and career readiness through academic and life coaching, free onsite child care for young children, transportation assistance, flexible scheduling, accelerated (8-week) terms and year-round classes.
Students enrolled at The Excel Center can also earn free college credits and industry-recognized certifications.
In June 2018, Mercedes Cantrell, 22, graduated from The Excel Center in Shelbyville with a high school diploma. A mother to a young son, Cantrell now looks toward the future with hope. Read the speech she gave during her commencement ceremony below to learn more about her story.