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My life before South Baltimore Learning Center (SBLC) was a very bleak one. I had my first child at 16 and had to drop out of school because I had a baby. By age 22, I had three more children. With no knowledge of how I would ever be anything other than a parent, I was left with the responsibility of providing for my children alone, while sacrificing my education.

While working as a cook years later, I was offered a promotion to be a lead cook. It was a salaried position and I accepted the offer. I needed to complete the employment verification forms for HR, which stated that the position required having a high school diploma. I informed my manager that I had no diploma. He said he would speak with HR on my behalf. HR informed him that it is the company’s policy that all employees must have their diploma and I was no longer eligible for the position that I so loved and was great at doing. I was fired from the company.

Not having my high school diploma began to haunt me. That was the only obstacle standing between me and succeeding. My education became my quest, I also knew I had to work but I never gave up on my quest. So I began my journey to get my diploma at age 40.

Soon after, I sat down with my children and finally told them my story. I was ashamed to tell them that I never completed high school. They were surprised to and actually thought I was the smartest mom alive. One day when I looked up, all of my children were grown and on their own. Thank God I can proudly say they all graduated from high school.

Now it was my turn. After asking friends, researching the Internet and lots of praying, I chose the SBLC because the schedule allowed me to maintain my full-time job as I worked towards earning my diploma. SBLC offered me the opportunity to enroll in the National External Diploma Program (NEDP). So I enrolled in September 2006.

When I tested for the program, my scores were not up to par. My advisor, Mr. David Glassman, referred me to tutoring to bring my scores up in order to meet the qualifications of the NEDP. I took advantage of the Center’s drop in tutoring labs, stayed up late, went to work early to get off early, and made excuses to get off of work to study or finish assignments.

Talk about defying odds, “Wow!” I was doing just that. SBLC has a lot to offer, not only a high school diploma, but also hope to the hopeless. I don’t know where I would be without SBLC, which is exactly what the adult learner needs. We all come from different circumstances, backgrounds and communities, but we have one thing in common which is the need to succeed and to be productive citizens with better opportunities for the adult learners like myself.

Thanks to SBLC’s continued support, as well as their many efforts to better the life of the adult learner. I graduated in 2007. I now have a great job: I actually work for SBLC as an executive administrative assistant!

I feel that I’m on the right track and have a very bright future. My dream is to open a shelter to help young mothers with housing and education because I’ve been in their shoes. SBLC improved my life and I want to help others improve their lives.

Article seen in Focus On Women Magazine February/March 2016 Issue