Operation Graduation 2011: Helen McBride (Forest Park, Ohio)

Date: August 7, 2011

Being in high school, I never considered myself a bad student. I did consider myself as a student that from time to time would get off track.

When I first started I had all the hopes in the world of doing well and not giving myself any reason to fail. Situations occurred that I was not too proud of at all.

At one point I let a relationship come between myself and my future. It was not until my junior year that I realized what I needed to do.

My grandmother had two strokes at that point, and nobody knew if she was going to make it. I had already lost my grandfather in 2002, and one of his last wishes was for me to finish school. Now my grandmother was making the same request.

Seeing her in the hospital really changed my views on how I was acting. She told everybody if she made it through she wanted us to move with her from our home in Milwaukee to Cincinnati in order to be closer to the rest of her family. I saw this move as an opportunity for change.

I was happy when we got here.  I no longer had those negative influences that I had before.

When it came time for me to start school, I was told I would attend Mt. Healthy High School, but that wouldn’t be the case.

I didn’t have enough credits to be a senior at Mt. Healthy and was to be sent to Ombudsman instead.

I wasn’t happy because my cousin told me that kids with bad behavior went to Ombudsman. They didn’t have to be bad when they got there, but they did something bad some time in high school in order to get sent there. I was angry because I felt I didn’t fit into that category. I was thinking to myself, “I’m a good kid, so why am I here?”

It seemed to me that the only wrong thing I did was move. I started thinking, if I was back in Milwaukee I’d be at my old school with all my friends, and wouldn’t be profiled a bad student that attends an alternative school.

There was so much pressure on me even in my own house. They didn’t agree that I should attend a school that only goes for three hours.

They didn’t like that I would have to ride two buses for an hour and a half just to get there. They really didn’t like that I would have to wait over an hour after my session in order to catch those same two buses and ride an additional hour and a half to get back home.

I have to say, I didn’t like it much either, but I did it. It was hard especially in those winter months, but I knew this is what I had to do. I had got to the point where I blocked out all the negative from my mind and only cared about one thing, graduating.

I looked at my mother and how she’s still fighting with not even having a GED. There are three adults in my house that have graduated, and my grandmother being one of them.

See, my mother was pregnant with me when she was my age and dropped out. I wanted to break that cycle. As I was still keeping in touch with my friends in Milwaukee, I was hearing all their stories, and a lot of them were dropping out.

It’s self motivating not wanting to disappoint my mother or grandmother, and most importantly I didn’t want to disappoint myself. This is what got me out of bed every day for that bus ride. I wanted something different for myself.

I love it at Ombudsman because for a while that was the only love and support I felt I was getting. You need somebody to pat you on your back and tell you that you’re doing a good job sometimes.  This is what I got from my teachers, confidence that I can do it.

They taught me that I’m not in a bad place for bad students, but a positive environment that will help me get to the finish line.

I am proud to say I am graduating next week. I am all set to attend Regency Beauty Institute in the fall.

I just obtained a job and am currently working on a second one. My mindset is now stronger than ever.

I’ve been through so much this year from moving, my cousin being murdered, and to top it all off my father passed away in December. I really thought that would affect me a lot and it did just not to the point of no return.

Graduation was the hardest thing I’ve ever worked for, and it’s all paying off! I am so proud of myself. I have come very far and will continue to go even farther.


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