Student Spotlight: Kimberly James

Kimberly James is 46 years old and moved from Gainesville, Florida to Rochester in May 2020. Kimberly worked in Health Insurance for seven years. She felt as if something was missing in life and thought it was time to accomplish something new again. She does not have her High School Diploma and had expressed an interest in receiving it. Kimberly heard about OACES through her therapist. Her therapist suggested OACES because of their great, self-paced HSE (High School Equivalency) program. This program seemed like a great fit for Kimberly.

Before attending classes at OACES, Kimberly felt helpless. Her biggest step was bringing herself to enroll in class. She thought to herself, “let me give it a try, it can’t hurt.” Kimberly started classes at OACES this past October.

Out of the core classes needed for HSE, Math is now her favorite subject. The irony is, Math has always been Kimberly’s worst subject, something she still struggles with. When Kimberly first came to OACES, she was nervous to see her Math score from the placement test. Although she wasn’t satisfied with her score, it was much better than she expected. After studying hard and dedicating her time to learning, Kimberly is now at the highest level of Math only a few months later.

Kimberly received a laptop during Digital Literacy’s “Tech In Hands” event. Having access to a laptop and Internet at all times allows for Kimberly to continue her education at home. Before she had access to a laptop, Kimberly was working on schoolwork before at home. Completing and submitting assignments are difficult and time consuming to do on a phone. There are times Kimberly still needs computer assistance, but she comes to school, and the Digital Literacy volunteers always assist her. Being able to navigate a computer on her own gives Kimberly the freedom of learning at her leisure. At first, Kimberly struggled “reading thoroughly and understanding concepts fully” going back and forth from in-person and online classes. However, with the help of Digital Literacy volunteers, her teacher, and classmates, Kimberly is easily able to navigate between the two and get her work done efficiently.

Although Kimberly has been largely successful at OACES, her journey does not come without setbacks. At the end of the year, Kimberly had to take a break to deal with some personal issues that took up too much time. Nevertheless, Kimberly is passionate about achieving her goal and is back in class part time. When asked who she is most inspired by, Kimberly replied, “Oh, teacher Decker! When I was out, he reached out to me and put the whole class on the call encouraging me to come back”. Mr. Decker, her teacher at OACES showed Kimberly that he and other students had faith in her abilities. Kimberly has all the right skills and tools to be successful and her OACES family showed her just that.

Kimberly was searching for something to make her proud, and she thought achieving her HSE would be just that. However, she ended up being the proudest of herself. It is not her HSE that will make her proud, it’s seeing her abilities and the results of her hard work. Kimberly is proud of sticking with her schooling despite some setbacks. No one is making her come to school. She is coming because she is passionate about achieving her goal. Kimberly is excited for the future and is eager to see what it holds.

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