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Jun 09 2021

Student Spotlight: Haley

Student Spotlight


My name is Haley: I am 22 years old, have three younger siblings, a fur child named Vegetable, and am working close to full time as a cashier in a metaphysical shop (a shop specializing in Reiki Healing, crystals, incense, sage, etc.) I have been a vegan and activist for three years. I love nature, yoga, animals, being spiritual, watching anime, playing video games, reading books, and being surrounded by my loving and caring friends and family.

I came to The Literacy Alliance for the first time in 2017 as a fresh adult (18/19). Initially, I was coming to get my HSE to open the door to more employment opportunities with no plans of attending college. I grew up in an incredibly poor household that held six people and multiple animals through my childhood and knew how hard my father had to work to provide for all of us kids (even battling his demons). I knew I wanted a bigger sense of stability and that getting my high school equivalency diploma would be the easiest and quickest chance of securing that. Unfortunately, during this period of my life, I suffered from horrible mental illness to the point where I could not take care of the simplest things like getting out of bed to use the restroom, eating, and even personal hygiene. This period was brought on by the (seemingly) insufferable pressure of becoming a full-blown adult weighing on me day in and day out; this led me to drop out as I could no longer function.

The most recent chapter of my story starts a few months ago when I exited an incredibly toxic relationship, and in that, gained an incredibly compassionate and loving support system which constantly helped me with internal work and is still helping to push me to take the strides I need to have not just a money-making future, but a future in which I would be HAPPY. With their pushes and encouragement, I have actual goals and ambitions for the first time in my life. I wanted to come back to The Literacy Alliance to graduate for ME because I know who I want to be and what I want to do with my life.

“If you’re reading this, this is your sign that it’s your time to start your journey, and honestly, I can’t think of a better place to do it than with The Literacy Alliance.”

My experience with education has always been incredibly rocky, and honestly, the only thing that kept me in school as long as it did, was kind English teachers, the law, cute boys, and telling the bad teachers off. From the very beginning, I was diagnosed with ADHD; it made concentration virtually impossible. That, mixed with growing up in a household filled with chaos, drugs, and domestic abuse, made school a nightmare. The math teachers always passed me through to the next level because I was a problem child, and instead of teaching me, they would rather get rid of me. This led to me having a fifth-grade level in math as an adult, making any basic task like calculating a percentage at the store or leaving a tip for a waitress/waiter incredibly hard to figure out. I had to rely on electronics heavily.

Somehow, miraculously, I made it to eleventh grade (after two expulsions, multiple out-of-school suspensions, hundreds of detentions that I did not go to, and teachers who constantly disliked me). I was six credits away from graduating in eleventh grade when I started being heavily stalked. I started getting messages from an anonymous account who knew where I lived, my route home from school (I walked at the time as my parents were both employed), where I spent my time outside of school, and even knew personal things I do not remember telling anyone about my childhood. I begged the police and the school to help, but because it was anonymous, the school couldn’t do anything, and because no one had caused me physical harm, the police wouldn’t do anything either. I decided that it would be best to drop out to protect myself (at 17 years old).

One goal I have accomplished this time around with The Literacy Alliance is a sense of accountability and the feeling of absolute pride. Growing up, I had no goals or ambitions because I truly and whole-heartedly believed that I would not be alive to experience adulthood. I am finally able to find myself and who I am. This self-discovery period is helping me to feel proud of my accomplishments, which in turn helps me hold myself accountable. This mechanism I have developed has also led to a discovery which is disappointment in myself for the right reasons (meaning, I can feel disappointment in myself when I do things I know are not serving my higher self. Such as missing class/missing work/running late/doubting myself).

My experience with The Literacy Alliance has been mostly positive. The teacher I was blessed with was able to always help me with any questions I had and constantly checked up on me, making sure that I was doing okay. She would do little things like put flowers on my table, so I had something pretty to look at on days I was upset or offered words of encouragement, and she never stopped pushing me to do my best. I have a few minor issues with some of the policies, but they are mostly manageable and easy to follow.

My goals for after graduation include throwing myself a graduation party because I worked SO hard to get here. After my super rad graduation party (HI, I’M A GRADUATE NOW, WOOT WOOT), I want to pursue a 4-year degree in cosmetology, and I want to learn everything from hair to nails, to pedicures, to massages, to waxing, and so on. After cosmetology, I am determined to put myself through college for marine biology with as little financial aid/debt as possible. The ocean and its inhabitants are amongst my favorite things, nature, in general, being my absolute first. Our oceans are depleting at alarming rates, and it is my calling to help my sea-friends and their home.

To conclude this chapter of my story, I would like to say that getting here has been the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. I had cried and bled and even gave up once before I was able to succeed.

Failure does not exist unless you give up completely. My biggest advice is to try your hardest, the timing may not be right at first, and that is okay; just don’t give up completely. I am so proud of myself for making it, which is not an easy feeling for me.

If you’re reading this, this is your sign that it’s your time to start your journey, and honestly, I can’t think of a better place to do it than with The Literacy Alliance.

Haley passed her HSE exam in May of 2021. We are all very proud of her and can’t wait to celebrate all of her future accomplishments!

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