“They used to say, ‘Let me try her,” Naomi remembers, thinking back to her high school classmates in Philadelphia. “They wanted to see if I’d do something back, and since I had a short temper, sometimes I would react.”

Naomi, 18, is a member of E3 Power Center City, and is on her way – with better decisions, better reactions, and much to look forward to after the completion of her GED.

“I was never really a school person,” said Naomi, who was born in Southwest Philadelphia, as the eighth of nine children. Wise beyond the classroom, Naomi was frequently tested by her peers in high school who zeroed in on her differences – and exploited her desire for friendship.

Frequently suspended for her temper and her reactions, Naomi also noted her own mistakes when following the wrong crowd.

“I got involved with the wrong people. I was locked up, I was in foster care, I was in and out of placement,” she said. “I tried several different types of schools, but when I was put in placement, I didn’t know what I wanted to do – other than to get away.”

Get away Naomi did – running away until she was 18 years of age. But hitting that milestone in August of 2016 changed something in her.

“I turned myself in,” she said.

“I had a friend who completed the E3 program two years ago, and she recommended that I could get a fresh start here.”

Naomi’s determination helped lead her out of that place. She diligently met with her probation officer, paid her fines, and enrolled at E3 in December of 2016. Finding out in October that she and her boyfriend would be expecting their first child, Naomi made a plan.

“I knew I could do the four tests (of the GED) and that I already knew the information,” she said. “I wanted to take the classes first – to get myself on a bit of a routine – and what I liked was that E3 teachers worked with me, even on the days when I couldn’t make it in.”

That perseverance – on all sides – paid off, when Naomi passed the full GED in early 2017. She was laser-focused, shunning all extracurricular activities solely to focus on her studies. In addition, she was gaining respect and a support system throughout the city.

“My foster mother was really happy, and my mother was really happy,” Naomi said. “My mom knows I want to go further than just my GED, and this lets me do that. Miss Ann (Doley, Language and Reading Instructor at E3) was the first person I spoke with, and she’s been supportive ever since.”

Achieving this accomplishment and preparing for her baby’s arrival with her boyfriend, Marquise – the couple has since moved into a place of their own – hasn’t stopped Naomi from thinking about the next milestones and looking more toward her overall goals.

“I’m really looking forward to the (April 26th) prom,” she said. “I never got to experience that in high school, and I’m excited to do it here. And then, of course, graduation in June – assuming the baby and I can make the timing work out! But after that, I want to get my CNA license and start working my way toward a nursing career.”

Respectfully taking her past to heart, Naomi vows to never get caught up in her own mistakes again.

“I was a follower,” she said, reflectively. “I’ve realized that everything doesn’t need a reaction – and that rather than pushing back, now I’m pushing forward for myself and my family.”

The E3 Prom will take place on April 26, 2017, and you can help make a lifetime memory for our successful graduates! Ticket costs for one young adult are $15; $20 for couples. You can donate here, by including PROM in the memo line.

Posted in Blog JEVS Program: E3 JEVS Service: Youth & Young Adult