“Why will 2018 be your year?”
Sahar J. thinks about the question as it hangs in the air, on a bright, sunny late December morning at E3 Power Center City.
“Because I’ll be able to move toward more positive things in my life,” she replies. “Because now I can tell people what I’ve accomplished and I can say that I did this.”
At 18, Sahar has many things to look forward to in 2018. In February, she’s scheduled to give birth to twins – one girl and one boy. She has her graduation date circled on her calendar. She’d like to enroll in post-secondary education, whether that’s college or a trade school. She has a driver’s license in her sights, and would like to be working in some capacity. And she’s set up to move on these things because of the action she took in the last three months of 2017.
“I came to E3 in October (of 2017), and I passed my fourth-and-final section of the GED on December 14th,” she said proudly.
“I didn’t want to be caught in this endless cycle of saying I would do things and not do them, and I wanted to finish this before my children arrive.”
With a tight timetable in mind, Sahar decided to “get unstuck” – recognizing that her education needed to come before “being with friends all day.” On the advice of a friend already in the program, Sahar came for an orientation. She knew she liked school, but needed to know that E3 could accommodate her changing situation.
“Once Miss Jessica (Martinez) told me that I could work at my own pace, and that it was based on how determined you are, I was ready to start,” said Sahar. “Everyone is so positive here, and it really helped build my confidence.”
Martinez, who serves as the ELECT (Education Leading to Employment Career Training) Teen Parent Case Manager, worked to help Sahar identify potential barriers to the completion of her educational goals.
“People may think that having children and getting an education can be too difficult, or have low expectations for a young person,” Martinez said. “Sahar asked ‘How long will this take?’ and once she knew that she was in charge – that she would determine how long, and we would support her every step of the way – she was very impressive. I see her in hospital scrubs one day!”
Sahar credits Ann Doley (Language and Reading Instructor at E3), the rest of the staff at E3, and Martinez, for ensuring not only her academic success – but her timeliness.
“They knew there were days where I wouldn’t be able to make it on time, but they helped me out,” she remembered. “I really like the home feeling here – everyone is so happy – and I plan on staying involved, right through applying for community college or a trade school.”
With a future that could include being a neurosurgeon or a nurse, and most certainly a great mother, Sahar realizes the benefits of a good education – as well as the inspiration it serves for those who are touched by one who possesses it.
“When I learned that I had passed, I told my Dad, first. He wants me to be great and to do everything right. He said I was on the right path, and that he’s proud of me – something I was hoping to hear,” she said. “Now for my children, I want them to see that I accomplished this and changed my life, and they can accomplish anything in their lives, as well.”
Learn more about ELECT at cisphl.org/programs/