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How My Charter School Helped Me Get a Diploma, Job and Start College After Incarceration

How My Charter School Helped Me Get a Diploma, Job and Start College After Incarceration_5fbe548fbea5e.jpeg
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How My Charter School Helped Me Get a Diploma, Job and Start College After Incarceration

How My Charter School Helped Me Get a Diploma, Job and Start College After Incarceration

I’m 36 years old. For roughly 15 years of my life, I struggled with an addiction to meth. My addiction throughout those years had several negative effects on my life including school, family, failed marriage, my health and most of all my son Bradlee. I landed myself in juvenile hall as a young teenager, continued by county jail, and state prison as well. In 2012 I was sentenced to serve four years, with the possibility of an early release after serving two years.

For many years I wanted to finish high school, but instead I would convince myself that I was too far behind and wouldn’t be able to achieve a diploma. I was blessed with the opportunity to enroll in a charter school while incarcerated and finish the 126 credits I needed to receive my high school diploma. After a year and a half of being enrolled with the program, in 2014, I received my high school diploma through Five Keys Charter School. Finishing high school was a major stepping stone for me, and a key component in breaking the vicious cycle I was on.

The staff at Five Keys were nothing short of amazing. I knew in my heart that they truly cared about me and wanted me to succeed. I was always treated with respect and never judged, even though I was behind bars. They taught me to let go of my past mistakes. They showed me that I can succeed and accomplish the goals I desire in life. Not only did they help me in getting my high school diploma, they also gave me a solid foundation in the trade of welding and fabrication through their welding program.

The staff at Five Keys Charter went above and beyond for me without a doubt. I had voiced to the staff that I was interested in enrolling into college. I had always dreamed of receiving not only a high school diploma but a college degree as well. Five Keys staff arranged to help me fill out the necessary application for college funding as well as getting me enrolled in classes at the local college in my area. Because of all the hard work Five Keys did for me I was able to start college the day I was released from being incarcerated.

As of today, I have been completely clean and sober for three years. I’m a certified welder working fulltime for a shop in the San Fernando Valley. I also am a certified identity theft prevention advisor. Aside from working, I’m 28 credits away from getting my associates degree in communications at a community college. Completing my associate’s degree in communications will give me the tools to be a great public speaker as well as an identity theft prevention instructor.

These are things I never thought were possible for me to achieve. I know in my heart that the success I have today began with finishing my high school diploma with Five Keys Charter school. Some encouragement for current or future charter school students: Success is possible. Remember the future is what counts. Utilize the staff at your charter school. They are there to help you succeed. Five Keys Charter school honestly changed the trajectory of my life, and for that I am truly grateful for all the staff that did so much for me.

Photo courtesy of author.

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