Yasmin grew up in a large, loving family in Puerto Rico, She attended high school there, but dropped out after 10th grade. She had gotten pregnant and had a baby. She tried to continue with school, and had the support of her family, but it was hard to take care of a baby and keep up with her studies. She had a second child a year later, and realized that she needed to make a change. She dropped out of high school before the 11th grade, and moved to Holyoke to be near her extended family, with the hope of going back to school and getting a good job.
She came to The Care Center in 2012. She knew she was doing the right thing for her children by studying for her high school equivalency – she wanted to be a good role model for them, and to show them that when something is important, you don’t quit.
While at the Care Center, she has taken advantage of every opportunity. She has earned nine college credits by participating in the Clemente Course in the Humanities, and Humanities 108. An accomplished poet, she has been a member of the editorial board of Nautilus II two years in a row. She has been the student photographer for Care Center events and programs.
Yasmin plans to enroll in Holyoke Community College to study nursing when she passes her high school equivalency exams.
“There have been times I felt like giving up. But my counselors and Ana remind me of all the things I have accomplished, including my college courses. I didn’t want my kids to think that mom quit, and I knew that the Clemente Course had given me a great head start on college.”
Angelique Vera was a promising young student – praised for her intelligence and creativity since she was a young girl. She loved school and loved learning. Everyone around her wondered what she would grow up to be – a doctor? Lawyer? President? But then, when she reached adolescence, she sensed that something wasn’t right. She couldn’t concentrate; she was easily distracted; she suffered from a deep sadness that she couldn’t explain. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and spent the next few years feeling that she was a problem that couldn’t be fixed. She felt that everyone had given up on her, and no longer thought that she would succeed at anything. So she dropped out of school when she was sixteen.
The Care Center restored me. I know if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here.
When she gave birth to her son that year, she really felt the doors close on her future: “If my future was limited before, it was now non-existent. And no one had a problem saying as much. Do you know how many times I heard, ‘You can’t study with a baby.’ There was sadness, pity and hopeless disappointment when people looked at me. I believed in those sad eyes.” After being out of school for a year, she came to The Care Center, where she found a supportive, encouraging group of teachers, counselors, and peers. She finally felt that there were people who believed in her again. Her teachers were not bothered by her distractibility and helped her find ways to cope. She brought her baby to The Care Center’s onsite daycare center, where he was loved and nurtured. She passed her GED exam with flying colors and was the valedictorian of her class.
Angie is now enrolled in Holyoke Community College, where she continues her studies to become a registered nurse.
“The Care Center restored me. I know if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here. The Care Center was the only place where not only did I hear I would pass, I was told that I must. The first place to offer me a yes, when the world shouted no.”