Class of 2017 Student Profiles
These are profiles of students who overcame significant life challenges to complete their education and earn a high school diploma as a member of the Class of 2017 from an EdisonLearning network school.
Carl Velez: Chicago Brainerd Bridgescape Graduate
Carl Velez came to Englewood Bridgescape Academy (later transferred to Brainerd) from a traditional Chicago high school because he felt disconnected and the discipline structure was too harsh. He was about to drop out but he learned about Bridgescape from a close friend.
At Bridgescape, Carl felt at “home”. The teachers wanted him to be there, and they showed him that they had a personal investment in his future. Carl liked the structure of the program, as it allowed him to focus on one class at a time; and appreciated that teachers were always available to support him through one-on-one tutoring and in small group instruction.
The Bridgescape team consistently inspired him and encouraged him to persevere, knowing that he was a caregiver to his mother who faced a major health challenge. Due to the challenges he faced, more than once, Carl wanted to give up and drop out.
Yet, as he said, “Ms. Battle pushed me every day to work hard. When she showed me that she cared, it made me want to come to school every day”. Carl made a promise to his mother that he would finish high school. Sadly, Carl’s mother passed right before Mother’s Day.
As an extra incentive and encouragement, Mr. Ernest Williams, Program/Student Success Director, promised to buy Carl’s tux for the prom. With all that was going on he did not even think that he was able to go to prom.
In order to complete his course work, Carl worked at school during the day and from home in the evening. A few weeks before graduation, Carl successfully finished all of his course work and graduation requirements. He was able to finally relax and enjoy his senior prom.
As he walked across the stage at commencement, as an “Achievement Award” winner, Carl realized that he had fulfilled the promise to his mother. He knew that his mother was embracing him, and proud of him.
Carl is truly thankful for the commitment to his education shown by the entire Bridgescape team. Carl plans to work this summer and enroll in a post-secondary program this coming fall.
Going forward, the teachers and staff at the Brainerd Bridgescape look to remain connected with Carl, and to ensure that he is supported throughout his future educational endeavors.
Mariah Gonzalez: Chicago Humboldt Park Bridgescape Graduate
Mariah Gonzalez had been a student at the Bridgescape Learning Academy Humboldt Park campus for nearly 3 years. She was classified as a sophomore at the end of last year. This year, however, Mariah came with a change of heart, and a new sense of purpose and commitment to her education. She set a goal for herself to graduate by her 18th birthday. She also wrote herself a letter, and recited the letter to the staff and students on a regular basis to share with them her rededication to learning and achieving. Most obvious of all, Mariah started attending both morning and afternoon sessions. Finding a Spanish class extremely difficult, Mariah would go into the hallway to record her lessons daily. At that time, she would past by the program director’s office and reminded the PD of her goal. She was determined, dedicated and unstoppable.
Mariah’s hard work and perseverance paid off when she was presented her high diploma on June 13, and was awarded $60,000 in scholarships to continue her educational journey. In addition to achieving her own goal, Mariah served as a model for other students, by proving to them that every student can learn and succeed.