Jennifer, AAD Graduate and Bilingual Mom

Jennifer, Graduate, Bilingual Mother

Jennifer is one of our older Achievement Academy 2017 graduates. She got off-course from her high school studies due to the effects of poverty on her family’s survival. When she was sixteen years old she started working full time to help pay the family bills. At first she juggled Honors Spanish and Honors Language Arts classes in her freshman year and worked two restaurant shifts five days a week. She found her report card recently and proudly showed her children (aged 13, 11 and 5 years). Young Jennifer was a very good student! Her mom worked two jobs; her father was in prison. Jennifer took on more and more parental responsibilities, helping her siblings with homework, taking them to their doctors appointments on weekends. The drama and rough crowds at school deterred her from keeping up with the intense responsibilities of school, household duties, and working for two paychecks. She said, “Life's not easy. It’s what you make of it. I would have liked to live my dream earlier, but being that I’m starting a career path at 30, it makes me value it more!”

Showing up Matters

“Just showing up and staying focused matters! It’s helpful to come early and work extra. You can get extra help and work with tutors for extra hours in addition to class time. I like to take the initiative to work hard. When you are here you are learning! I struggle sometimes with anxiety and depression and my sister, my husband and my kids checked on me each day to make sure I was coming to class at Achievement Academy!”

Juggling family responsibilities

“It can be challenging! If my kids are sick, I give my Achievement Academy teachers a call and ask for homework. I can be really strict with my kids because I have high expectations. Sometimes I have to pump the brakes (and lighten up). You have to work for what you want and you need to struggle sometimes. Life is mostly about school; they have after school activities like piano, sports and homework. We sit down for dinner as a family every night. I’ve told my daughter: you don’t even need to worry about boys seriously until college!”

I want to have a career and a college degree

“My son and I are doing this thing together where we talk about ‘One day we could both be at UNC or NC State together!’ I wanna do a Bilingual Certified Facilitator program so I can help the community and translate for people in the schools and maybe the courts. I’m looking forward to my future, with a career and a degree that I can show my kids. Even though I dropped out at 16, I want to make it better and show my kids ‘I’ve done it. So can you!’ Now it’s May 4, 2017 and I am applying to become an Americorps Member because Achievement Academy’s AmeriCorps Member, Allie (my tutor and mentor) has inspired me to work here part time with GED students while I continue my education starting at Durham Tech in the fall.”

Interview with Emily Cox, MSW


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