Their Stories

Dillan

I was expelled from school when I was 16. The years before that had not been easy. My mother died when I was 12. Her alcohol use caused her liver to shut down. My father left before she died, but all I can remember is him being abusive. My grandmother took custody of me and my little brother when my mom died, but now she is gone too. We now live with a disabled family friend.

I know these are challenging circumstances, but I want to make the best of life instead of focusing on circumstance. I got my GED two weeks after enrolling at YES I only had to wait to be approved for testing. I scored the highest total GED score in 2010 and for that I get a YES scholarship when I start college in Summer 2011. I am currently studying for my SAT.

Ms. Gilliam coordinated employment for me and my brother at our local Chick-fil-A. I enjoy working and can contribute to the household. I thank Ms. Gilliam for YES and Ms. Inman for hiring me. I have a lot of creative energy and I am learning how to use that energy to build my future.

Yolanda

At the age of 16, living in Capitol Homes, I had my first child. I dropped out of school shortly after I learned I was pregnant and didn’t make any immediate plans to complete my education. This part of my life story began more than seventeen years ago.

I enrolled in a YES mentoring program and teen mom seminar at the Martin Luther King Center, which later transformed into a formal GED program. With the help of Ms. Gilliam, I received my GED and learned how to be a positive role model for my son. She didn’t just hold a class once a week, she opened her home and her heart to me and all of the other teen moms needing guidance.

In the interest of being the provider for my family and with the help of YES, I enrolled at Dekalb Technical College and later received my phlebotomist certification. I have been a practicing phlebotomist for over 13 years, a career.

My first born, Quay, is an honors student at Mundy’s High School, a published writer, a junior minister and a community activist. Once I learned the value of education and training, I was able to motivate my son to value the opportunities that come with an education. Quay will be graduating in the Spring of 2011 with plans to attend Morehouse College.

Ashley

I came to YES when I was 21. I heard about a community GED program at the East Point Library and was interested in enrolling as soon as possible. I went to class for only two months before I was ready to take all of my GED tests.

While I was attending GED classes, I had taken a housekeeping job at a local motel at an hourly rate of $6.50. I was given limited hours and timed cleaning shifts, all while getting paid below minimum wage. I was unable to afford to live on my hourly wage and that made life unstable.

Once Ms. Gilliam and Ms. Kai learned about my employment conditions, they worked with me to identify a job that would earn a living wage until I completed additional training. I now work 30-35 hours per week at a rate above minimum wage and own my own home. The house is a true fixer upper, and even though my mortgage is less than $300/month, it belongs to me. That makes me so proud. I will be enrolling at Dekalb Technical College in the Spring of 2011 to increase my skill level and identify my career path.

Dustin

When you are on juvenile probation, you are suppose to be in school. I was expelled for fighting when I was 15 and six months later I enrolled in the YES GED program at the Ponce Library.

I knew I had the ability to graduate from high school, but circumstances didn’t allow that to happen the way I planned. Ability isn’t everything. You also need opportunity and knowledge. I was glad when I learned about the GED program at the library because this gave me the opportunity to finish school.  The cool thing about this program is that they taught me things outside of what we learn in the GED books. My tutor Kristina gives me French lessons during our lunch breaks and Ms. Kai also gave me a book, “ The Challenges of Democracy” for extra reading. She knew that the information that I learned from the GED books needed to make sense to me in real life too, so she spent extra time with me until it made sense. Ms. Kai explained that this book was from her personal collection, it was her political science textbook from freshman year. I may not be an expert on this topic now, but I will be by the time I am sitting in my freshman political science class.

I received my GED for Christmas 2010 and will be enrolling in college in the summer of 2011. I know that I am destined for greater things. I watch my mom work long and hard hours for us to get by. One day I will be able to tell my mom that it’s my turn to take care of her.

Miriam

I came to YES in February of 2010. I had recently been laid off from my job as an assistant at a law firm. I took this as a sign that I needed to complete my education instead of being okay with working to pay the bills. Getting laid off was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. I needed to finish my education and reinvest in myself as someone who can grow and achieve. If I had not been laid off, I probably would not have returned to finish my GED.

I received my GED in April of 2010 and am now enrolled at Atlanta Metropolitan College to study Business Administration. I have a very bright 5-year-old son. I have always taught him the importance of education, but now I am showing him the path to success. The sky is the limit for both of us.

I have learned a lot from being a wife, a mother and a woman on her own. So, I speak to other young ladies at YES about the importance of being a good mother and having standards for all relationships. If my lessons can help to empower another young woman to say yes to her future, that is a victory.