"Getting your education is something no one can ever take away from you," says Carissa Carothers, a graduate from the Hastings Education Centre.
Before coming to Adult Education, Carothers never thought she would graduate high school let alone become the valedictorian of her class and the second person ever to graduate high school in her family.
"Growing up, I had dyslexia. My entire life I felt like I could never graduate high school," she says.
Fear of reading out loud in English class led to feelings of embarrassment in different school settings. After years of frustration, she dropped out and almost gave up on her career dreams.
"Health care was always something I wanted to do." said Carothers. "I was tired of running and wanted to face my fears."
A former teacher introduced her to one of the VSB's seven Adult Education Centres. That's when things started to change for her. The warm and welcoming environment at Hasting Adult Ed Centre made going to school each day less of a chore and more of a challenge. With her teachers' support and her own tenacity, Carothers re-committed herself to practice until she could read out loud comfortably. During break time when other students left the Centre, she would meet with teachers to continue working on her English courses.
"The teachers here are amazing-I've never experienced that type of support anywhere else," said Carothers. "If you put in the work, the teachers will be behind you one hundred percent."
Her tenacity and strong work ethic led her to not only pass English but also be chosen valedictorian of her graduating class. That meant addressing a crowd of over 300 people with her speech.
"It was so surreal that I made it to that point because there were so many obstacles I had to face in order to get to that moment," she says.
Adult Education not only helped this mother of two face her fears but helped her establish a foundation where she could not only provide for her family and be financially independent.
"I want to be a role model for my children. I want to be able to give them a great future-there is no greater accomplishment," says Carothers
She credits Hasting Education Centre for giving her the foundations to succeed to pursue her career goals. As a result of her hard work, Carothers says life's gotten very good. She recently graduated with a certificate from the Native Education College's Health Care Assistant Program with the second highest GPA in her class. She has future plans to apply to a nursing program.
"It was a rough road but it literally turned my life around forever," she says.
Click here to learn more about Adult Education at the Vancouver School Board.