Meet A Few of Our Recent High School Graduates
Fatima Ballout sees with only one percent of her vision. When her high school completed an assessment of her academic level, it was determined she did not qualify for a high school diploma, so she was given a certificate of completion instead. "I had a strong desire to work hard and earn my diploma," Fatima said. “At first, knowing where to go was a challenge because I was unfamiliar with the steps necessary to move forward and achieve my goals."
Fatima became aware of Hadley Institute while at a rehabilitation center in Detroit. She said, "During one of my computer classes, the teacher asked me what I wanted to do after completing the program. I told her I couldn’t do much, given that I didn’t have a diploma. She then told me about Hadley Institute and how it was possible to acquire a diploma if I took the required courses. In January of 2016, my brother helped me apply to the high school program, and I began my unforgettable path."
Fatima is grateful for the assistance her family and instructors gave her. She was encouraged by her instructors' positive comments and constructive feedback.
"Now that I've graduated, I plan to go to Henry Ford College to get an Associate degree," she says. “Today, I know my opportunities are not limited. A diploma means joy at having accomplished my goals. I’m the second person in my immediate family to have received a diploma, and I’m very thankful. I’m also thankful for Hadley Institute."
Eduardo Benitez heard about Hadley Institute from one of the staff at National Camp for the Blind in Little Rock, Arkansas. He has been blind for 10 years due to a retinal detachment. At Hadley, Eduardo enjoyed his American Government and Physical Science classes the most. He wanted his family to see him accomplish his goal of graduating and is thankful to have achieved the significant goal of receiving his diploma.
Eduardo wants to have a professional career helping others and, someday, a family he can support. Eduardo says, "My future plans are to keep studying to learn as much as possible and to help others. This diploma is the first step in achieving that dream."
Francisco Javier Guzman was diagnosed at birth with retinitis pigmentosa, and also has macular degeneration. Francisco dropped out of school during his senior year because he did not have the technology or equipment he needed to succeed in the classroom. He didn’t tell others about his condition for fear of being bullied.
Francisco heard about Hadley Institute while attending the Oregon Commission for the Blind. His favorite courses were Self-Esteem and Adjusting with Blindness; Internet Essentials; Typing and Keyboarding; and Container Gardening. "I really enjoyed all of my Hadley courses, but the one that helped me the most was Self-Esteem and Adjusting with Blindness. I learned that I am not the only one dealing with blindness, and how to deal with the challenges visually impaired people encounter." He is grateful for the online courses that enable him to learn while at home and for the ability to contact instructors at any time of the day.
Francisco says, “Receiving my diploma has helped because now I have the opportunity to attend college and get a degree that will lead to a good career. He feels there are many careers open to him and hopes his studies will result in a profession in technology. "I really love to work with computers and hope to own my own computer business – I want to go big in a career and degree."
Hannah was diagnosed with an astrocytoma on her optic chiasm when she was 18 months old. She has no peripheral vision, is blind in her right eye and has minimal sight in her left eye. She went through chemotherapy and radiation throughout her life and started to struggle while in public school. When her teachers recommended Hadley Institute, Hannah began taking classes in her junior year. She persevered through her studies with a goal in mind: to receive her high school diploma.
The Hadley classes Hannah enjoyed the most were cooking and gardening. Hannah's future goals are to improve her health, practice cooking, and take a class in sign language.
Heather dropped out of school at the age of 16 before she experienced visual impairment. While pregnant with her daughter, Heather was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. She spent the next 16 years raising her daughter – and throughout those years, she felt the weight of her decision to drop out of school.
During a very low point in her life, a friend gave her some advice. The friend explained that Heather’s new phone could bring the world into her hands. Heather says, “My friend told me there is help for people with visual impairments and said I should use my phone to search for help. That gave me the push I needed. I searched for a place to go back to school to obtain my diploma, and I found Hadley. It was the beginning of a very special dream turning into reality.” Math courses were Heather’s favorite because her instructor made math exciting.
While her dream came with bumps along the way, she persevered through the difficulties. Heather says, "The words of my friend came back to me every time I thought about giving up. I made myself go on. Now I am reaping the benefits of my determination and hard work. I can now look at myself and feel an incredible feeling of accomplishment, along with the knowledge that when you put your mind to it and believe in who you are, dreams can come true!"
Visually impaired since birth, Didrill Neal received her high school occupational diploma in 2004. She needed a few more credits to receive her high school diploma, and having heard about Hadley from her vocational rehabilitation counselor, enrolled in classes to graduate.
“Being visually impaired has never stopped me from anything except for driving,” Didrill shared. “Now that I have my high school diploma, I can attend college in Alabama.”
Didrill says her instructors were very helpful and her experience with Hadley was great. She enjoyed history the most because the classes included many events from the Bible.
Now that she’s graduated, she will move forward by going to college, working toward a career and keeping God first in her life.
Julie Sparks comes from a very large family – she is one of seven siblings. Blind since birth, Julie's eyes would not open and had to be surgically opened before she turned one. Julie says, "I learned along the way how to manage everyday life without the sight other people had."
Being made fun of and bullied caused her to leave school during the eleventh grade, saying, “I made a promise to myself as I walked out the doors of my high school… I will graduate one way or the other, and I did."
When asked about her experience with Hadley she says, "All of my Hadley instructors are very near and dear to my heart. I was thrilled each time I received a Certificate of Achievement after completing a course."
Julie is happy to have received her diploma saying, "My diploma is proof that I actually know what I am doing." Her plans for the future include crying happy tears, bragging about graduating, and enrolling in other Hadley courses to gain more knowledge and skills.