It’s an all too familiar story. Happy teen, honor student and liked school. But in her senior year, she got pregnant and was forced to drop out of high school. The stories vary – but for Shalois C. (“Shay”), her life began to spiral downward. She had family issues, lost her job, was living out of her car and when she lost her car, became homeless. Without a high school diploma, she couldn’t find decent employment, and she had to care for an infant.

“My life was like a hard-level jigsaw puzzle. I was trying to get a GED, had a dead-end job and then became homeless,” Shay said. “This school saw a light in me that I thought had gone out. They worked with me when I was at my lowest. I’ve figured out how to finally solve my jigsaw and it starts with determination and patience.”

She was able to bring her daughter to school and then take the assignments home to complete. She finally had some stability and a plan for her future. The friendly staff and one-on-one attention boosted her confidence, and she knew they would be there if she got lost or confused. “The best part of school was knowing that my principal would be there asking if I was okay and if I would be coming in,” she said. 

Her principal, Jason Kurston, called Shay a hard worker and a shining light. In her moving graduation speech she said, “To the class of 2021, I commend you. We may not be a big class, but we have a big impact to make on this world and it starts today. So, to the little voice in your head that told you that you couldn’t…tell it to kiss your cap and gown because we all just became the leaders of today!”

She plans to continue her education to become a cosmetologist and a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Her daughter is now two years old and Shay is confident she will be able to provide her with a better future.

Written By:
Ann Abajian