An Ombudsman Student Success Story: There’s a Light at the End of the Tunnel

Date: November 18, 2010

We recently received the following alumni story from Lizz Maxwell,  director of our center in North Olmsted, Ohio.

In the words of Ombudsman operations manager, Denise Lyons:

Lizz is an awesome Director constantly meeting the needs of all her students; her dedication and passion for Alternative Ed. is what makes Lizz a master educator.

Lizz wrote to us about Justin when she sent us his story:

Justin persevered through a lot. He was so focused on where he was going with his life that allowed anything that was thrown at him to bounce right off. Nothing was going to slow him down or get in his way. He just needed someone to not be either intimidated by his originality or feared by his originality. He sure marches to the beat of his own drum…and I have always applauded him for it!

An Ombudsman Student Success Story: Justin Gregg

A note from the Ombudsman team:  Although Justin doesn’t specifically mention bullying in his essay, we feel his story is a testimonial to how students who are bullied or otherwise ostracized by their peers often emerge as more self-confident and successful adults. Know that It Gets Better.

Growing up for me was never easy. I always felt like the odd one out – unique among my peers.

In a way, it had its benefits.  Primarily because it allowed me the opportunity to get to know myself much sooner than I would have otherwise.

I grew up with a lovely family; a good, ideal life. I was like a 40-year-old trapped in a 16-year-old body. The type of person you come across only once in a while. I was thankful for everything I had; however, my peers didn’t understand or appreciate my unique qualities. Instead, I was criticized for them.

I was constantly arguing and battling my peers for acceptance and understanding, while I was constantly the talk of the town. School was impossibly unpleasant, because the right to enjoy it had been taken away from me early on.

Eventually, I began intentionally putting my future at risk to get out of going to class. I purposely acted out and got in trouble.

I knew who I was, and had every intention of living my dream and making it a reality. The harsh words, and the pain and agony some people put me through actually worked in my favor.  It taught me – at the earliest stage of my personal development – what reality was, how cruel people could be, and how rewarding the outcome could be if you just engaged yourself and focused on what was truly important.

Eventually, my educational experience became so unhealthy and uncomfortable that I realized I had exhausted all of my opportunities to find success in the public school system. It became evident that I was unintentionally damaging the only relationship I truly valued – my relationship with my parents.

Thankfully, there was a light at the end of the  tunnel for me.

Public school was too busy -too much else going on. My attention span was certainly not fitting for all the commotion, so I was guaranteed to see terrible results when report card time came. I wasn’t stupid. I wasn’t insubordinate, I just didn’t want to be there anymore.

I lucked out and managed to land myself in a situation that not only saved me from my own demise. And, it also gave me the opportunity to prove to myself that I was capable.

That was Ombudsman for me. Ombudsman saved me from dropping out of school. Now, don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t graduate top of my class. That was never my goal. But, Ombudsman did allow me the opportunity to focus on my education.

There were easy rules to follow:  Show up every day, finish your programs and move on to the next. That was successful for me because I taught myself the proper way of solving a problem. I truly believe that I learned how to teach myself more effectively than I had been taught by others in the past.

I attended the Olmsted Falls location and later transferred to the North Olmsted location. I can honestly say that my experience at the North Olmsted location changed my life. I walked in the room for the first day and knew everything was going to be marvelous. I had such a great experience there.

Even though I didn’t really get to know my classmates much since it wasn’t that kind of establishment, I learned more in the Ombudsman program than anywhere else previous. I was able to sit in complete silence and focus on my programs. I knew that if I had a question, I could go and ask one of my fabulous teachers.

Most importantly though, I was personally impacted by my Mrs. Maxwell. Her energy was so strong. Her personality extremely friendly. Even though she took the class seriously, she reached out to each person individually and, in my opinion, got to know them on a level that none of my teachers had previously. She cared. That was the most important thing.

I will forever cherish the experience I had at Ombudsman. I wish I would’ve began attendance there much sooner. It was because of Ombudsman and the support of Mrs. Maxwell that kept me in school and on the right path.

As far as a success story… I am well on my way to being the superstar I knew I always was. Immediately after graduation from my high school via Ombudsman, I packed my entire life away, hopped in a car on a whim and drove 2,700 miles away from home. I made a life for myself in the place I should’ve always been.

I am now a resident of Beverly Hills, Calif. I live a comfortable, rewarding, and happy life as a designer/buyer for Nordstrom in Los Angeles.

I learned so much from my past experiences. I am proud of each of my accomplishments. And I am thankful I attended Ombudsman and turned my life around.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.


Categories: Success Stories
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