Student Success Stories

Martina Dix
Seeds of Literacy

“I was unfulfilled. I needed to complete myself,” says Martina Dix, a 2013 Seeds of Literacy graduate. “I wanted to go further than where I was.” For 22 years, Martina worked at Wendy’s, first as a cashier and on the prep line, and then as a general manager. Long hours and a hectic pace made her want something more.

In order to have more career options, Martina came to Seeds. She liked that each student worked at her or his own pace, and that tutors were always available for one-to-one help. The fact that Seeds had morning, afternoon, and evening classes allowed her to fit her education into her work and family schedule. Read more...

Tyeishia Long
NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology

Tyeishia, 24 years old with a two year old daughter, had lived in her car or slept on a mattress at a different home every night for more than a year because she had no money for a place of her own. She felt hopeless, stuck earning $8 an hour at a local photo shop and barely paying her bills. Unfortunately, Tyeishia lacked the skills or experience to change the pattern of living paycheck to paycheck.

But then she heard about NewBridge. Finding about this opportunity “saved my life,” she said, adding that the fact our courses are free meant she could move toward a career without going into debt.

But her challenges did not end there. Tyeishia had trouble passing the basic skills test needed to become a student. But NewBridge made sure that she had the help she needed to overcome this obstacle. Using our free tutoring and refresher training, Tyeishia finally passed the test.  Read more...

Lizbieta (Ela) Swiderek
Valley Forge

When Ela first came to America from Poland she did not speak any English. Two years ago she had a goal to learn English and become an American citizen. Her son helped her enroll in our English as a Second Language classes at Valley Forge in September 2012. Last month her dream came true when she passed the US Citizenship test and became a citizen! Ela is very proud to be an American citizen and grateful for the help and preparation she received through the Parma ABLE ESOL program.

Juan Montanez
Matt Talbot Inn

Juan Montanez is a 58-year-old veteran who grew up in a tough neighborhood in Chicago. To escape the poverty and violence around him, he joined the army at the age of seventeen and served in Panama where he was trained as a Combat Medic. After an honorable discharge, Juan returned to Chicago and embarked on a music career. He always had a talent for music, and he played as a percussionist with bands in the Latin night clubs. Although his music career was very successful, Juan became too involved with the darker aspects of night life and developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol.

After struggling for many years, Juan joined a church support group that helped him overcome his addictions. He played music for the church, got a job as a CNC programmer in a factory, and got married. Several years later, however, everything fell apart. He got a divorce and relapsed into drug use. He overdosed on the street and was transported to the hospital by the police in the city where he now lives - Cleveland, Ohio. He was then transferred to the Matt Talbot Inn, a rehab facility, where he completed a 60-day recovery program.  Read more...

Sierra Jackson

Don’t settle for less. The thought stuck with Sierra as she entered the dimly lit hallways of the quiet high school. The scuffed tiled floors were the same ones she had walked down on a daily basis as a teenager, the beat-up lockers the same ones that had held her books. But Sierra knew that she was no longer the person she had been in high school. Back then, Sierra had avoided the problems these walls represented. Today, thanks to OhioGuidestone, Sierra was ready to face any obstacles in her path in order to succeed.  Read more...

Art Flores
SkillTrain Daviess County Adult Learning Center


When Arturo Flores, 33, was a young man in California, he couldn’t resist the lure of the streets. Arturo, or “Art,” joined a gang at age 14.  He dropped out of school during 8th grade.

“At 15 years old, I entered the juvenile hall system for the first time,” Art said. His drug use and criminal activity led to being in and out of juvenile detention during his teens.   The year Art turned 18, his son was born and his mother died. Despite these life-changing events, Art said, “I was so stuck in the world I was living in, I continued going.” Between ages 19 and 25, he was in prison five times. Read more...

Chelsea Howard
Louisiana Delta Community College

With the determination of a hurricane to get to its destination no matter how many times it changes course, Chelsea Howard came to DeltaLINC with a goal of getting her High School Equivalency (HSE) in April 2013. She was 21 at the time, and informed me she had only completed the 8th grade. She said she wanted to go to school for nursing when she received her High School Equivalency but she did not think she would be able to because she was weak in math. Chelsea Howard was committed to obtaining her (HSE) as soon as she walked through the door of DeltaLINC. Her dream was to go to college, but she felt that this was only a dream and that she would not see it come true.  Read more...

Juan Gutierrez
Anne Arundel County Literacy Council

They say the third time's the charm, and with the help of the Anne Arundel County Literacy Council, Juan hopes to pass a critical entrance test next fall that will help him conquer the GED exam. Juana  hardworking, motivated manhas grappled with the GED twice in the past, in the hopes that the degree would open the doors to a more satisfying life. Each time he faced daunting challenges that interfered with achieving his goal.

At age 13 Juan had to drop out of public school to help support his family. In spite of the fact that he put in long hours at a full-time job, six years later Juan managed to go back to school on weekends and eventually finished grades 7, 8, and 9. High school proved especially challenging, though, since Juan was required to attend school Monday through Friday during the day and then go to work each night to support his mother and six siblings. He took the GED test but fell short of passing by just a few points.  Read more...