When one woman’s daughter said she was going to drop out of high school “like mom,” she realized she couldn’t let that happen.
So, in an effort to prove to her daughter that education is important and that anyone can do what they set their mind to, Haley Ring, 26, enrolled at The Excel Center in 2018. This spring, she graduated with her high school diploma.
“It feels awesome. It’s a huge accomplishment. I never thought I would ever finish, but to be able to do it and hear all three kids say how proud they are of me, it’s just an awesome feeling,” Ring said.
Ring dropped out of high school during her senior year. She got pregnant with her oldest daughter as a freshman, and she suffered from severe epilepsy that would worsen from lack of sleep and stress. Still, she made it to her senior year, with the help of her family, but she realized she wouldn’t have enough credits to graduate and dropped out.
While she said she felt it was the right decision at the time, she didn’t want her children, who are now ages 11, 7, and 6, to think that education wasn’t important.
“When my oldest daughter said to me that she was going to drop out just like mom did, in that moment I knew I couldn’t let that happen. She’s super smart, and she can do it,” said Ring.
Ring picked up at The Excel Center where she left off in high school to complete the remaining credits she needed to earn a high school diploma. Having been out of school for many years and now being the mother of three young children, Ring said it wasn’t easy, and a couple of times she wondered if she’d gotten in over her head.
She said the teachers at the center encouraged her and gave her the extra help she needed, and Ring used the on-site daycare for her youngest daughter. Had the center not had that, she said going back to school would have been even more difficult, if not impossible.
Despite the challenges of being a returning student, Ring said she knew she couldn’t quit.
“I knew there was a goal. I had a goal, and I knew if I gave up I would be showing my kids and proving to myself that I couldn’t do it. So I had to keep at it,” she said.
On June 4, Ring was celebrated during a private ceremony with the other 43 spring graduates from The Excel Center. While the ceremony was slightly different than a typical graduation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ring said it was “amazing” to be able to celebrate her accomplishment with her family.
“It was one of those moments where you’re super proud of yourself, and you’re hearing everyone clap and holler for you. It makes you feel good like you actually did something right for the first time in a long time. I’m super proud of myself,” Ring said.
In addition to earning a high school diploma, Ring also earned a ServSafe certification. In the fall, she plans to attend Ivy Tech Community College where she will major in medical assisting.
In total, The Excel Center in Kokomo, which is Goodwill’s free high school for adults, graduated 77 adults during the 2019-2020 school year.