Meet Rose Marie

Goodwill Excel Center Graduate

“The Goodwill Excel Center helps everybody excel by making sure they have the resources they need to stay in school.”

When Rose Marie graduated from The Goodwill Excel Center (Excel), she was honored to be the student commencement speaker. Just two years earlier, she had attended her sister’s graduation from Excel and was inspired by the Class of 2019 student speaker. “I remember Tamika speaking and thinking to myself, ‘That’s going to be me someday.’” Not only was Rose the student speaker for her class, but she was also the proud recipient of the Winnie McIver Gage Scholarship, the Dr. Billy Harden Student Leadership Award and was named Salutatorian.

But the road to these accomplishments wasn’t easy. Although Rose Marie was active in sports, dancing, cheerleading, and Spanish club, she dropped out of high school twice before. The first time was the result of her own decisions not to prioritize her education. The second time, a teacher noticed that Rose Marie was in an abusive relationship (one month before Rose Marie was about to marry her abuser). She was embarrassed and ashamed, so she dropped out. Luckily, the wedding never materialized, and Rose Marie eventually found the supportive personal partner she was looking for. However, as time went by, she realized that she was so busy taking care of everyone else in her family, she was being left behind.

“I needed to think about myself for a change and do something meaningful to fill the gap in my life. I also wanted to be an example for my nieces and nephews and show them that if I can finish high school, then they can, too.”

When Rose Marie went to Excel for new student orientation, she met with Ms. Wendy, her soon-to-be Life Coach. She was nervous but tried to keep calm. It turned out that she had nothing to fear, even when a personal situation made it difficult for Rose Marie to continue her second year at Excel. “Ms. Wendy makes you feel like you want to be in school and that you have reason to be there. She inspires everyone to go back to school every day. If you’re running late to class, she’ll even find you a ride!”

While at Excel, Rose Marie explored her career interests and earned certifications, like graphics and design. She also had a strong interest in residential construction and discovered that she’s skilled at driving heavy equipment. But it was her time as a peer mentor that opened Rose Marie’s eyes to a future in counseling. Her down-to-earth nature and understanding of her classmates’ challenges made her a go-to confidante. “We’re all relearning everything that we learned years ago. There are a lot of us at my age — some who are older than me. We’re all starting from the same page and have to focus together.”

Rose Marie plans to attend a local university and get a bachelor’s degree in communications, with the goal of becoming a counselor. She hopes to return to Goodwill Central Texas and “pay it forward” by working as an Excel Life Coach.

“When I started realizing what Goodwill means to me, it was a happy-sad feeling. I’m just so thankful for everything and it makes my heart so happy, I want to cry. It’s a feeling that you can feel in your heart — and if you can — you know Goodwill is doing something right!”

Goodwill Central Texas: Meet Rose from Goodwill Central Texas on Vimeo.