I really enjoyed the self-paced nature of the Hadley courses. Braille is very detailed, so I liked that I had all the time I needed.
— William, PA, 2014


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Congratulations to Hadley High School Class of 2017!

We are pleased to recognize the challenges and achievements of the 19 graduates who comprise the class of 2017; it is an honor to share their inspiring stories.

Davis Allen, MI

Davis AllenDavis' perseverance is remarkable. Even though achieving his goal to receive his diploma took many years, he was inspired to continue his education in order to set an example for other visually impaired people to never stop learning.

Davis said, "I really appreciate all the time and patience the teachers had with me." He credits the staff of student services and their promptness in providing him with the materials he needed to be able to continue and finish his education.

Staci Cloyd, NE

Staci CloydStaci left high school to get a job. Then, in the summer of 2013, at the age of 21 while working in a warehouse, Staci suffered a stroke, which led to vision loss. She thought her life was over. Staci said, "My education was taken from me because I went to work to bring an income home to help my mother and brother."

One year later, despite the blindness, she continued rehabilitation training and eventually attended the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired Training Center in Lincoln, NE. She learned about Hadley Institute from her vocational rehabilitation counselor.

Staci said, "Not once after my accident did I think I'd have an opportunity to go back and get my diploma with a 3.6 GPA!" She looks at vision loss as a "blessing in disguise" because blindness helped her return to school. She said, "Not once did any of the instructors give up on me, even though I had at times."

Staci is thrilled to receive her diploma, "I no longer have the horrible feeling of being a failure or inadequate. With my diploma I can now go on to attend college, and find a career that I'll enjoy." She set a goal to become an Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Instructor or a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the Visually Impaired and gives the Hadley course Self-Esteem and Adjusting with Blindness the credit for helping to influence her occupational choices. She says, "I know I can help others like my Hadley Instructors have helped me. Thank you Hadley for giving me a second chance."

Anthony Dorsey, IL

Anthony DorseyTony was born with Bardet-Biedl syndrome, diagnosed at age 13. He was able to see well enough to read books, and function pretty normally until, at the age of 26, he became visually impaired.

Tony says, "I first heard about Hadley through my Mobility Instructor. The classes were hard, and a lot tougher than I thought. As I received my graded lessons back, I realized I was a better student than I thought. The classes became fun. I hadn't been in school for over 20 years, so this was quite a change for me."

He enjoyed the courses Basic English 1 & 2, Spelling, Punctuation, and Science. When he had trouble with the delivery of his last two sets of class materials, he credits his teacher with helping to find them. He is thankful for his instructors who were very responsive, returning grades and feedback quickly. "I just always felt like all the instructors at Hadley were behind me 100%, helping me complete my courses."

Tony says, "This is a big accomplishment. It has shown me that there are no limits, and if I work hard and commit myself, the sky is the limit." When asked about his future plans, Tony responded, "I'm hoping to find a job to contribute to my family's savings. My wife and I would love to be able to take a cruise and enjoy life. Having a job makes this dream much more attainable. I'll forever be grateful for the education I received at Hadley. Education truly is priceless - and it has opened so many doors for me."

Levi Gitlitz, WY

Levi GitlitzLevi was born prematurely at 1 1/2 pounds and developed Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). Levi was the only blind student in his school. While attending kindergarten, he was locked in a closet by bullies. His parents fought for his education, even living apart for a time so he could attend school elsewhere. When he returned to his hometown school, they wanted to teach him sign language instead of braille and refused to provide any assistive technology.

Although he was a straight 'A' student, the school only offered a certificate of completion. Levi found it stressful at times because there were no facilities for the visually impaired in his hometown. He is thankful for his supportive family who always pushed him to try, telling him he could achieve his goals. Levi says, "The people who don't try are the ones who fail!"

Levi knew of Hadley through his mother who had taken classes for professional development. Levi enjoyed History, English and Math with the encouragement and support of all of his teachers. He also enjoyed learning a new language. Levi shares his plans, "First I want to try out for a State FFA Officer. I then would like to study broadcasting as a career. I am very proud of my accomplishments. I have achieved what many people at my local school said I would not be able to."

James Gore, MO

James GoreJames lost his sight in 1981 to glaucoma. He didn't feel the school he was attending cared about his needs. He says, "I am thankful for the opportunity Hadley gave me to receive my high school diploma. This document means doors may be opened that otherwise would be closed."

James is grateful to all of his instructors for their support and care. He says, "I sure love Hadley and look forward to continuing studying. Thanks to Hadley I feel like I can accomplish anything." He plans to attend technology classes on how to repair computers to further his education. He looks to his future with two possibilities. 1) start a business repairing computers and 2) start a bus company for the elderly and visually impaired, allowing them to travel from New Mexico to Columbia easily and economically. He is developing plans to follow his dreams of opening his own business.

James says, "The best advice I can give to other students is don't give up on your dreams. Work hard and you will go far. Hadley is there for you."

Alexia Gross, IL

Alexia GrossAlexia was born blind in her right eye and has coloboma in both eyes. She says it was harder to deal with when she was younger but has grown more confident as she became older. When in high school, she struggled with the fast pace and decided to drop out during her sophomore year.

Alexia explains, "My family was reluctant with my decision, but I wanted to prove I was independent and through research on the internet I found Hadley. As soon as I started courses I admired how encouraging the teachers were. The kind words of my teachers really stuck with me and helped me persevere." Alexia is grateful to the instructors who helped boost her self-esteem. She says, "I really enjoyed all of the courses, Poetry and Gardening the most." Other favorite subjects include science and business.

Alexia's future plans are to get a job and/or go to college, majoring in science or business. She says, "Having a diploma makes me feel really proud that I made an independent choice. I feel accomplished in every sense and can start being more independent."

Zoe Groves, NC

Zoe GrovesZoe was born with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 and Optic Glioma and went through chemotherapy to save her sight. She attended a public charter high school that failed to meet her accommodation needs. After deciding to pursue a diploma elsewhere her transitions counselor told her about Hadley Institute.

Zoe's favorite course was history. She is grateful to Hadley Student Services staff members who helped her with the documentation needed for the dual enrollment program at Durham Technical Community College. Acquiring a degree was a stepping stone that allowed Zoe to move forward to community college and eventually a four-year college.

Zoe tells us she was grateful that Hadley courses allowed her to work at her own pace at home. She fit her course work into her personal schedule which includes continuing on the rowing team at Jordan Lake Rowing.

Zoe's future plans are to go to college to become an advocate for the environment. "I feel great that I have received my diploma, and I hope others feel the same way."

William Howard, AZ

William HowardBill was diagnosed with profound deafness at age five and in his early 20s he was told he had Usher's syndrome. There was no school for his specialized needs so he attended public school. He was bullied because he couldn't talk. Bill says, "Sadly, I was being punished because I couldn't say the word when I knew the answer and I was slapped when I kept mispronouncing a word repeatedly while learning to read. After this happened, I never read another book until I was in my late 20s."

Even though Bill received his GED he wanted to obtain his diploma, "I wanted to prove people wrong by accomplishing my goal which is to graduate, refusing to give in!" Bill told us he has benefited from all of the courses he took, explaining, "Hadley courses opened my eyes and, more importantly, I'm more educated."

Bill says, "I'm happy that I finally achieved my goal of obtaining my diploma. As for how I feel about it, it boosted my confidence as well as self-assurance." Bill's been encouraged to be a Rehabilitation Counselor and will probably take more Hadley courses in the future.

Chad Lance, TX

Chad LanceChad has been visually impaired since he was eight years old. He lost total sight in his left eye and later partial sight in his right. He left public school because he felt he was left out by his peers. He applied to Hadley Institute when he heard about the program from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Chad credits many on his team, including Hadley, for his ability to overcome obstacles and the acceptance of his circumstances.

Chad tells us, "My History teacher meant a lot to me because while I had many operations and illnesses, she believed in me. She was patient and understanding. If I contacted her she was quick to respond. I knew she was there to help and guide when needed."

Chad says he benefited from the personal finance course for teaching him about money and savings. He explains, "Now I function really well, set goals and see them through. If I could talk to my eight year old self, I would tell him and others, do not let your disability get in the way." His diploma is helping him accomplish more goals including going to college and finding a job in the auto mechanic field.

Ana Miranda, AZ

Ana was born premature and has been blind since childhood. After her family moved, she was unable to attend public high school, and heard about Hadley Institute from the Arizona Talking Book and Braille Library as well as the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired (SAAVI).

Ana decided to finish high school in order to get a job. She tells us that taking the classes became easier as she moved from the first to the last. Ana said, "I really enjoyed Personality Psychology and Container Gardening." She is grateful for her instructor's feedback and the links she sent to interesting information that correlated with the classes.

Ana plans to get a job in customer service. She says, "This diploma means a lot to me. I feel very happy to have this accomplishment. Receiving my diploma has opened more opportunities for employment in the future."

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Latoya Payne, TX

Latoya PayneWhile in 7th grade, Latoya didn't understand why she couldn't see the notes on the screen in her health class. After several doctor appointments, Latoya was diagnosed with Stargardt Disease, a juvenile version of macular degeneration. She tells us, "I barely passed the 9th and 10th grade and my self-esteem was very low." She was shifted from class to class which led her to drop out during the 11th grade. "I felt cheated out of my high school diploma even though I chose to drop out, so I went to work instead of school." Latoya became a single mother and put school aside in order to raise her son.

Fifteen years later, Latoya was deeply depressed and remembered that her mother had told her years earlier about Hadley Institute. When she found her way to Hadley's website, Latoya explains, "I had mixed emotions, nervous because I hadn't been in school for years and happy that there was a school just for me. After reading about Hadley on the website I knew I could finally accomplish my goal of finishing school."

The e-mail telling Latoya she passed the entrance exam revived her spirit. "I was determined to finish no matter what." She says the courses were informative and challenging. "Although math is my favorite subject, Abacus 1 was the most challenging. I had to read the lesson over and over. Completing the lessons made me very proud and let me know I could do anything I put my mind to."

Latoya tells us her son is one of the reasons she kept going. "I wanted to show him anything is possible. My experience with Hadley was beyond my expectations. Everyone is so nice and knowledgeable." As for the future, Latoya is starting her job search and would also like to continue her education in accounting.

Candace Sawitsky, NY

Candace SawitskyCandace became legally blind at the age of 16. She faced many challenges in school not only because of her blindness, but also because of dyslexia. This caused her to give up for years, until she learned about Hadley Institute from the Commission for the Blind. She says, "I wish I knew about Hadley when I was younger."

Candace enjoyed all of the business classes. She says, "I enjoyed the class Finding Employment and had a wonderful instructor." She credits Hadley's Student Services staff with helping her find courses that interested her. "It was fun to go back to school and be able to read books." Candace tells us whenever she had questions or problems, Hadley staff answered her concerns quickly. She says, "I tell everyone about Hadley and that they should find a class that interests them."

She is an advocate for other people who are blind, telling them, "they can" even when others tell them they can't. Now that she has her diploma she says, "I plan to start a pastry food truck business and see where this will take me in life."

Willie Tomlin, GA

Willie TomlinWillie has been visually impaired for 15 years. He didn't finish high school because he needed to work to help his family. In later years he couldn't attend night school because he spent time on the road as a truck driver supporting his family.

Willie heard about Hadley Institute from a man who was blind. He took classes to complete his high school education and to better understand himself. He enjoyed the Business Law course the most. "I gained a lot of knowledge of things I didn't know when I owned my own business. The Law course opened the door to a better understanding of those things I didn't know."

Willie explains, "Getting my diploma through Hadley was the best experience. I missed out on a lot because I didn't have a diploma, and now that I have it, I won't stop." He wants to enroll in a trade school so he can help others. "My plans are to continue getting my education or maybe start my own business. I deeply feel that my diploma will open doors to a better quality of life."

Trevor White, WI

Trevor was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes while in high school. He became very sick and felt his school did not understand his illness or needs. Due to the Diabetes he went blind in 2010 and tells us he didn't know what to expect since he had never met a blind person. He had a close relationship with his grandmother who encouraged him to finish high school so he could receive his diploma. Trevor credits her with this accomplishment.

Trevor learned of Hadley Institute from the South Dakota Division of Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired. He says, "I never knew about schools like this and didn't need it until I went blind." He tells us he had an overall good experience and will be concentrating on getting a job now that he has his diploma. He's thankful for Hadley and the program that helps people finish high school.

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Alonda Williams, TX

Alonda WilliamsAlonda had just two weeks to complete her high school education when she went into labor with her first daughter two weeks early. Now she is a wife, mother and grandmother. Alonda lost her sight in 2011 to uveitis, inflammatory glaucoma, and cataracts. She thanks God for restoring her sight in 2015 after several surgeries and medical treatments.

Alonda heard about Hadley Institute from her vocational teacher at the Commission of the Blind. Her teacher encouraged her to call Lamar University telling them she was pursuing a diploma at Hadley and that she wanted to further her education after receiving her diploma. When they told her she could further her education at Lamar, she said, "What do I have to lose, absolutely nothing."

Alonda says being visually impaired has been a challenge and a blessing. She tells us she fell in love with the online courses. "I really enjoyed the Bible, and Human Eye class, helped me understand my own eye conditions. Taking classes taught me to really lean on and trust God. Sharpening my other senses revealed to me something that I never thought I had… patience."

Alonda tells us, "My diploma means life and determination! It's not how you start, it is all about how you finish!!" She plans to further her education and strive for more.

La Moine Williams, AZ

La Moine WilliamsLa Moine dropped out of high school at the age of 14 in order to work to help support his mother and sister. At that time he felt money was much more important than continuing high school and getting his education. La Moine says, "It was not until I started having problems with my vision that my education came into focus."

Having had diabetes from the age of 8, he started losing his vision to a retinal detachment in both eyes at the age of 28. La Moine underwent surgery and was told the surgery was a success. His vision gradually returned but a few months later, the doctor suggested he have surgery to remove scar tissue because it could cause a detachment. He explains, "I awoke from the surgery with no vision and very little light perception."

La Moine says, "At this point, although I did not know it yet, my education was to become a very important part of my life. I moved in with family and really had no direction for my life. I thought that my life was over. I had no idea about being blind." He had the choice to take the GED test but chose to enroll at Hadley to get a diploma. He explains, "I chose to get my diploma and started on a long journey of knowledge."

LaMoine is in his first semester of college. "I have realized that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. Blindness can't stop you, only you can stop you. If you continue to believe then you will make your dreams come true."

Torrey Wilson, SC

Torrey WilsonTorrey has been blind since birth. His education took him to public, private and blind schools. Even though he received a certificate of completion, he wanted to prove he had accomplished more than completion. "I tried to get my GED at an adult education center; that did not work because they did not have enough braille materials."

After finding Hadley Institute on the internet he decided to take courses and as he says, "instead of trying to get my GED, I decided that it would be better to get my diploma; I want to function in society and have a job and I knew I needed a diploma to do this."

Torrey is proud to say, "I completed all the requirements to receive my diploma. I now am a high school graduate and I am very proud of myself."

Louis Gonzales, AZ

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Lauren Turner, IL

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