Qualia dropped out of high school during her junior year in pursuit of earning money. Many of her friends had already dropped, which shaped her decision to drop out. For the next three years, she worked multiple jobs and felt unsatisfied with her life. In an interview she said, “The struggle didn’t start when I dropped out of school, it started when I was 16 and I got pregnant; I had an abortion and from there I just thought I was a failure.” She admitted that she was the only one standing in her way, but at the time she believed the odds were against her.
Deep down, she knew she should return to school because her future was on the line and she would never reach her goals by continuing down the same path. She signed up at the YALC after her best friend highly recommended the program and staff. Two weeks in, she felt overwhelmed, questioned her capabilities, and dropped out of the program.
A few months later, Ms. Bryant, the YALC math teacher, called Qualia and encouraged her to join the program again. Ms. Bryant told her that the staff saw so much potential in her based off her performance in the short time she was there. “Once I came here and I met them, they didn’t know me that well, but when Ms. Bryant called me, she touched a soft spot, and I thought ‘she believes in me, why can’t I believe in myself?’” After rejoining, it only took Qualia five months to learn over a year’s worth of content and pass her GED with flying colors.
Qualia has seen major changes in herself due to her time at the YALC, “I didn’t understand my own determination, my own motivation, until I got here and Ms. Bryant pushed me.” In every class, she saw that the teachers had creative lesson plans that kept everyone’s attention. She was amazed that the teachers were able to guide all students at once, despite students’ varying grade levels.
Since graduating, she has joined a three week career-readiness program called Career Connections and has landed a 14-week, high-paying internship with AmeriHealth. She is hoping her hard work will pay off and she will be offered a full-time position after the internship. In addition, she has applied to the Hope Project in efforts to get I.T. certified, which will assist her in a future position with AmeriHealth.
Qualia is now dreaming big. She is full of ideas and wants to open several businesses of all types. When talking about her goals, she casually added, “I think I’m going to own a hospital.” Working entry-level jobs after she dropped out, Qualia realized she was playing a small part in somebody else’s dream, and education was the only way to pursue her own dreams. She is now a role model for her younger siblings and older brother to stay in school and continue their education.
Her advice to those who are considering attending the YALC? “You have to want this and you have to put everything aside and be willing to commit to it because this is your future.”