Meet Celia

Goodwill Excel Center Graduate

“It was always my dream to go back to school. I never thought I was going to accomplish everything that I have accomplished.”

Celia has seen her life turn around dramatically since she walked through the doors of Goodwill Central Texas almost three years ago. She wasn’t working after being laid off from her job of ten years and had children to support. Celia was afraid that the nightmare that had been her childhood would now become her children’s nightmare.

“I grew up in foster homes. I dropped out of school when I was super young, around 16. I got pregnant and dropped out.”

Celia came to Austin to escape an abusive relationship and thought she was back on track until her company shut its doors. Without a high school diploma, she had little hope of finding a job that would support herself and her family. “I remember not having money for the girls, and I remember having our water cut off,” said Celia. “I lived with my brother for a while and then got an apartment, but we didn’t have anything.” That’s when she found Goodwill Central Texas.

Celia had always wanted to go back to school but at age 40 she figured that was a dream she would never realize. She decided to pursue her GED but then learned about The Goodwill Excel Center and the opportunity to earn a high school diploma through her daughter’s school. Says Celia, “…I thought, you know, I’m going to look into this!”

Celia was nervous walking through the doors of The Goodwill Excel Center for the first time, but she was soon put at ease. Through those doors, she found people similar in age and background and quickly fell in love with the school.

But earning her diploma wasn’t enough – she knew the best way to advance her career was to take advantage of the Goodwill Career & Technical Academy (GCTA). In a few weeks, she had taken a computer class and updated her digital literacy skills, and enrolled in the nursing assistant class. She soon became a Certified Nursing Assistant, and after completing an additional GTCA phlebotomy training, she later became a Certified Phlebotomist.

It didn’t take long for Celia to start a job with a regional laboratory services provider. They were so impressed with her work that they recommended her for a program to gain on-the-job work experience at a hospital clinic. “It was everything I was dreaming about when I first came to Goodwill,” she said.

Celia has loved the family atmosphere of her office for almost two years now. “When I was younger, we never celebrated birthdays because my parents weren’t around, or we were in foster care and it wasn’t a big deal,” said Celia. “I never thought I would be both celebrating my birthday with coworkers or having lunch with them AND working with doctors.”

The biggest change for Celia, however, is home. “I have a house! It’s crazy, I’m doing great. I’ve come a long way.”

Celia is grateful for the life-changing resources that Goodwill provided her and is proud to now be an example for others. She recently returned to The Goodwill Excel Center to share her inspiring journey with students. “It was always my dream to go back to school. I never thought I was going to accomplish everything that I have accomplished.”