After she dropped out of her Tacoma high school during senior year, April Green went to work as an office assistant. She left school because of a change in her family situation, but it was another change that steered her towards earning her high school diploma and pursuing higher education 15 years later.
In December 2016, soon after the birth of her son, April was laid off from her medical billing job. Her first step was to visit WorkSource for a re-employment interview. Staff there helped her create a plan of action, and referred April to Bates Technical College, where she met with Lynn Neal, a faculty member at the High School 21+ program at the college. A unique competency-based program, HS21+ helps adults 21 years and older earn their high school diploma.
“Before our meeting, I knew I didn’t want to pursue a GED. Lynn was comforting and reassuring. I did not feel stressed or intimidated at all with how the structure of the program was set. After speaking with her and learning more about the program, I knew I could succeed,” says April, who started taking classes spring 2017.
An Adult Basic Education instructor, Lynn recalls April as a dedicated student. “She came to Bates motivated and focused to accomplish her goal of a high school diploma. While in the high school completion program, April excelled in the classes and received her diploma through persistence and hard work,” says Lynn.
April adds that before enrolling in Bates, she was nervous about returning to school. “For the longest time, I told myself I wouldn’t be able to do it, but losing my job, getting connected with WorkSource, unemployment and the HS21+ program was the perfect push,” she recalls.
The program turns life experience into high school credits, and since April needed just a few to obtain her diploma, it wasn’t long before she neared completion.
“I earned a math credit through testing, took history and science classes, and through a combination of work and life credits, I was finally able to earn my diploma.”
“The HS21+ program was perfect for my situation. I earned a math credit through testing, took history and science classes, and through a combination of work and life credits, I was finally able to earn my diploma,” April says.
“It was like the stars aligned for me. My son was my motivation to start school. I was on unemployment and was able to obtain a Worker Retraining grant from Bates, which allowed me some financial wiggle room. My husband was supportive of me. He told me for years that I could return to school, earn my diploma, and pursue a degree. I also have helpful family members whom I didn’t have in high school,” says April.
“April’s determination and desire to reach her goals were an inspiration to staff and to other students in the high school program,” boasts Lynn.
“What pointed me to AMA were the marketable skills I’d learn. I wouldn’t bounce from job to job because I would have a degree in an in-demand health-related field. I’d also have a direct and clear career path. The medical field isn’t going anywhere, so I won’t be affected by the economy,” says April.
What pointed me to Administrative medical assistant were the marketable skills I’d learn. I wouldn’t bounce from job to job because I would have a degree in an in-demand health-related field.
April’s advisers and instructor helped her make the transition from HS21+ graduate to college student seamless. “Everyone who helped me were dedicated to my success. This program has a high level of structure, and I thrive in that kind of environment, so this was the ideal choice,” says April, now in her third quarter.
Of her five siblings, notes April, only one has a college degree, so for her, pursuing higher education means security and achievement.
Says April, “I had a turbulent upbringing; the stars aligned at the right time and I earned my diploma, and now I’m halfway through my Associate’s Degree. This is more than securing a promising career. It’s a victory.”