For John, a usual trip to the local library took a turn from the ordinary when he stumbled across a flier that would change his life. An advertisement for YouthBuild Long Island caught his eye as he made his way to an English group conversation – a staple in his routine since he had dedicated himself to becoming fluent in English.
At the time, John was determined to go to college, but first had to get his high school equivalency diploma. After taking the time to learn more about YouthBuild and its mission to assist young men and women with career preparation – including the attainment of their high school equivalency diplomas – he recognized the program as the perfect opportunity to meet his goal. Though, even for all his determination, the path to success was still an uphill battle.
An Ecuadarian native, John spent much of the prior year familiarizing himself with a new land and language. He committed himself to making the most of his new start and pursuing higher learning by whatever means possible. However, when he started YouthBuild in February 2017, he couldn’t help but feel that his efforts weren’t paying off quick enough. “I was nervous. Some people had already taken their TASC test, and I felt like I had done awful just on the placement test, alone,” he admits. The challenge of keeping up with his subjects was made even more difficult by trying to keep up with his classmates. “People would raise their hands to answer questions, and I didn’t understand them. I felt like for every hour they spent studying, I spent two,” he recalls.
When the time came, he passed his TASC test – much to his own surprise. “I didn’t finish the Math section, and I didn’t think I passed. I was so anxious about getting my score,” he remembers. When he simply couldn’t wait any longer, he called for the results and got the good news. “I wanted to scream or cry,” he says. “I was so happy that everything paid off.”
In the past, he didn’t always feel that he earned his grades, as he often struggled to retain what he learned from one year to the next. “If you can’t recover what you learned, can you really say that you’re educated?” he asks. As he completed YouthBuild, however, there was no question that he was walking away with a new lease on learning. “What I didn’t learn in ten years, I was able to learn in one,” he says. “I’m really happy because I feel like I truly deserve this. I put everything into it.” According to John, his experience with YouthBuild was made even more valuable by the extensive effort it required.
Going forward, John has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. With his history of determination, his next move comes as no surprise: “Now, I plan on going to college.”