Student Stories



Getting her high school diploma is a big deal for Shakota. She will be the first in her family to graduate from high school. Shakota didn’t have any problems academically until she reached the tenth grade. Even then her problems were relatively simple to fix, once she had people who looked beyond the girl sitting in the classroom.

Shakota’s transition from middle school to high school was smooth. She didn’t get mixed up with the wrong crowd or skip class. Her difficulty stemmed partly from the classroom, and partly from other circumstances in her life that the school was unaware of. Every day after school, Shakota went to work from 1pm to 10pm. That didn’t leave much time for schoolwork or decompressing. She woke up tired when her alarm went off every morning. Her mom dragged her out of bed and got her out the door, but she could never get to school on time. When she was in class, the teachers failed to involve her and the other kids fighting distracted her. Sometimes she was dozing off trying to catch up on her sleep. Obviously this pattern of behavior contributed to Shakota falling behind. She felt like the principal wanted her to leave because her grades weren’t good and she had a lot of absences. When it was clear that Shakota wasn’t thriving in a traditional high school, she and her mom started looking for a good fit.

Shakota’s cousin convinced her to go to Houston Can Academy. Her cousin had enrolled there and the school had helped her a great deal. Shakota thought it was worth a try. It couldn’t be any worse than the situation she was in now. It took Shakota an hour on the bus each way to get to and from Houston Can Academy, but getting her diploma was important enough for her to make that sacrifice. She said, “The teachers were nice and it was easier to learn. Classes were smaller, learning was more fun and although they pushed us, they were there to help us.” Shakota’s advisor sat her and her mom down and explained that Shakota’s job was interfering with her education. He said that school was much more important in the long run and encouraged her to take morning and afternoon sessions to catch up with her credits. “We listened to him because we knew he cared,” she remarked. Mr. Mays, Shakota’s advisor, was also her cheerleader. Once she got into the routine at school and quit her job, she joined the Diamonds step team. They perform for people and the group of kids was great! Shakota was engaged in learning, she caught up on her credits, and at last she was graduating.

Houston Can Academy addressed a simple problem because they understood her situation. Of course Shakota had to do her part as well. She put extra time into her commute and concentrated one hundred percent when she was in class. Shakota is going to go to college to be a registered nurse because she loves science and biology. She is going to start at a community college to get her basics done and then transfer. “I would have been a drop out if I hadn’t found Houston Can Academy. Now I have so much to look forward to. I might even be able to work on the side now,” she said with a smile.


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