Virginia – Meet Ilena who overcame the odds to earn her high school diploma and is “overwhelmed at the opportunities.”
Raised in Massachusetts as a member of a large family, Ilena didn’t have an ideal living situation. Money was tight; food, warm water, heat and clothing were hard to come by. As a teenager, Ilena began experiencing depression and anxiety, which lead to self-harming. During high school, she was in and out of hospitals and dropped out of school as soon as she turned 16. Following a move to Texas at 17, she found herself homeless. At 19 she moved to Virginia to work on her high school diploma through the NEDP. Prior to entering the program Ilena felt at a loss, as if she had failed and had no paths left to follow. Through the NEDP she has gained confidence academically and in other areas of her life as well. She wanted to go through the NEDP to have something tangible to show for her efforts.
She graduated in June 2017 from the Fairfax County Public Schools and said, “I thoroughly enjoyed this program and I feel like I have a chance at a life now. My possibilities have opened up and I am honestly a bit overwhelmed at the opportunities. I am endlessly grateful and proud to be a part of this program. Keeping yourself on track is definitely the most challenging part of this program. It really does drive it home, though, the fact that this program is all for you and your well-being. Someone who goes all the way through the NEDP can have a sense of well-deserved pride. I feel as if I can overcome a multitude of other things in life since I have gone through this program.”
We wish Ilena all the best in her future opportunities!