Meet Andrea

The Goodwill Excel Center Graduate

“They provided a lot of support and had no judgment. They took the time to talk to you and listen. I appreciated them to the fullest.”

Andrea has always stressed the importance of education to her kids. As the mother of six children, it was her long-time goal to go back to high school and earn her diploma. While she enjoyed her job in administration, she often saw professional opportunities pass her by because the positions required a high school education. On August 14, 2020, after much patience and dedication, Andrea, at age 40, walked the outdoor stage at The Goodwill Excel Center Graduation Ceremony and made her family proud.

Andrea became a mother at age 15, and by the time she was 17, she had three children. While she continued to work off and on during the next few years, she often worked odd jobs without any stable income. She also attempted to complete a GED program but the challenges presented by a classroom of contrasting learning styles and abilities proved too much for her busy lifestyle. By 2005, she was able to work full time and secured work in office environments, which she enjoyed. In an effort to improve her career potential, in 2013, she enrolled in a GED program and earned a professional Administrative Assistant certification. This gave her access to more opportunities but didn’t satisfy the high school diploma requirement for positions in which she was interested.

In 2016, Andrea learned about The Goodwill Excel Center (Excel) and enrolled. However, multiple issues, including transportation, halted her progress. It wasn’t until 2018 that she returned to school and, Andrea says, “Gave it everything I had.” Working full time, often from 7 AM to 6 PM while going to school was a strenuous task but Andrea was up to the challenge. “It was a long journey,” said Andrea, “but I would do it all again.”

Andrea says that the support services and staff at Excel really catered to the special needs and situations of each person, making the learning experience better for everyone. It truly helped Andrea along the way.

“They provided a lot of support and had no judgment. They took the time to talk to you and listen. Hearing them say ‘I’m here for you’ – I appreciated them to the fullest.”

Andrea is now enrolled in college, working on her Associate’s Degree with plans to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in the future. In the midst of all of these triumphs, she learned that due to the pandemic, the Austin office of the company where she has worked for over six years was closing in September. Andrea immediately went on the job hunt – as a high school graduate, she could now pursue some of those opportunities she missed before – and she happily accepted a new position!

Now that Andrea has her high school diploma and attending college, her children know she meant what she said about education. Her son recently shared with her, now that he had seen what she has been able to accomplish, he was inspired to do the same and be a role model for his own children.