Older Youth Services Graduate Spotlight: Haylee Earns Her High School Diploma

Haylee and her son, Jacob.

“I can’t begin to describe it. I’m just so overwhelmed. I finally did it,” says 2018 high school graduate Haylee, who receives support from The Villages Older Youth Services (OYS) Program.

After being in foster care since age 16, dropping out of high school and becoming a mom, Haylee calls graduation one of the biggest accomplishments in her life.

Haylee, 19, will graduate in July from Pennway Night School, a program in the Penn-Madison-Harris School Corporation in Mishawaka. Motivated by her son, Jacob, now 15 months, Kaylee enrolled in the program last year. Jacob often accompanied her to class when he was younger.

“I wanted to do this for him. When he’s older, I can’t tell him to finish high school when I didn’t,” Haylee says.

Haylee’s path to a diploma has not been easy. She moved in and out of foster homes, which caused her to transition to different high schools and not earn enough credits to pass to the next grade. Haylee admits the process became so frustrating she eventually dropped out of school and distanced herself from The Villages Older Youth Services.

At her lowest point, Haylee reconnected with The Villages OYS Program. With the support of Chrystal McQuade, an OYS Independent Living Case Manager, at The Villages, Haylee rented her first apartment and secured a job. “The (Villages) took me back with no questions asked. The support they provide is beyond what I expected,” Haylee says.

McQuade says she’s proud of Haylee’s progress. “She is a strong and determined young woman who has overcome so much. I have no doubt she will continue to overcome hurdles placed in her way and come out on top to create a better life for herself and her son.”

After graduation, Haylee plans to continue her education. As she determines education options, she will continue working full-time to provide a safe and loving home for Jacob.

Read more here about The Villages Older Youth Services. Items such as gift cards and new or gently used household goods(bedding, towels, dishes) are always needed to support the youth we serve. Visit our Amazon wish list to donate.

 

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