Jessica definitely has a flair for the creative.
In fact, just the other night, Jessica stayed up redecorating her apartment. She worked into the early morning hours drawing and painting designs on the walls.
"Our place needed some updating. It looks much better now," says Jessica.
Next year, she hopes to put her aptitude for art to good use at Humber College in Toronto, where Jessica would like to study design. Always thinking about her future, Jessica is taking this year to save money to offset the costs of post-secondary education in another city.
Although Jessica looks to her future with a lot of optimism, she can still remember a time when that future didn't look so bright.
By Grade 11, Jessica had already dropped out of school twice and she wasn’t sure that she wanted to go back. But seeing her best friend, who was in a similar situation, return to complete her diploma helped convince Jessica that finishing high school was the right thing to do.
"I really wanted to feel like I accomplished something. I had nothing to show for the time I spent outside of school," says Jessica.
It's such a good feeling to know that I graduated.
Having the support of her family also helped Jessica to understand the importance of graduating high school. A huge believer in education, Jessica’s mom always stressed that a high school diploma was necessary to get anywhere in life.
"Most employers won’t even look at you without your Grade 12," says Jessica.
To get back into school, Jessica spoke with her friend’s Student Success Teacher, who took time to sit down with her and go over the different ways in which Jessica could get the credits she needed to finish high school. "I was worried, because I thought it was going to take forever to finish high school. So I was surprised to learn that I could actually graduate on-time. It was such a huge relief," says Jessica.
Because Jessica already had a job, she was able to use that experience as a paid co-op, which she could earn credits for. She also enrolled in an "AP" class. The class is a specialized course whereby students spend six weeks doing Grade 11 Workplace English, six weeks on Grade 11 Workplace Math and an additional six weeks on Grade 12 Workplace Math.
"We found that most students returning to school were missing both math and English credits," says Anna Belanger, Student Success Teacher. "Going through the AP class allows students to get the credits they need, but also gain the proficiency needed in the workplace."
Although excited to be back, returning to school was difficult for her. At times, Jessica would find herself falling back into old habits. A sporadic attendance record threatened to derail the excellent progress she was making. A good long, heart to heart talk with school administration helped convince her to continue on. "It was a wake-up call for me," says Jessica.
She took that talk to heart, and pressed on. Now, Jessica is a proud high school graduate and ready to take the art world by storm at college. She encourages anyone thinking about going back to high school to just take that first step.
"It's such a good feeling to know that I graduated," says Jessica.