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Impact  >  Student Story



As her 30th birthday approached, Channelle was hitting a wall. Her son was about to start kindergarten and the job she was working wasn’t going anywhere. She started asking herself, “What’s next?”

Channelle had always thought of herself as smart and speaks multiple languages but she didn’t take school seriously and dropped out at the age of 16. Last year, she decided the best way to move forward with her life would be to go back to school and get her GED®. She had tried Durham Tech’s program previously but found it wasn’t personal enough to motivate her to finish. She went online to look for other options and stumbled upon the Durham Literacy Center.

While studying for her diploma with Durham Literacy, Channelle was also going through chemotherapy for a relapse of cancer, which had first occurred when she was just 14. She didn’t think about her health problems while she was in class, though. Durham Literacy’s teachers tailored instruction to her learning style and connected learning to her
interests, breaking down difficult concepts step by step and revisiting them until she understood. They made school fun and encouraged her to focus on the future. With Channelle’s drive, brains, and persistence, she was able to graduate in just eight weeks!

Today her cancer is in remission and, while her son started kindergarten, she became a college student in the Associates in Business Administration program at Durham Tech. She concurrently enrolled in cosmetology school, and plans to transfer to a four-year college. The career and college counselors who she met through Durham Literacy’s partnership with Made in Durham’s Futures Collaborative have continued to support her through her journey, helping her figure out which career was right for her, navigate college applications, and apply for financial aid.

Channelle took her last GED test and earned her diploma the same week that her son graduated from preschool, so they celebrated their achievements together. In fall 2019, she walked in our High School Equivalency Graduation Ceremony with eight other students, with her son there to cheer her on. “I thought my world was limited, but (Durham Literacy) showed me how to go after what I want," Channelle said. “I wouldn’t have done it for myself. I had honestly given up on myself. But I want my son to look at me and say, “My mom is awesome!”

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