Meet Carissa, one of the 2021 NEDP Scholarship recipients. Carissa is a recent NEDP graduate from EdAdvance in Litchfield, Connecticut.
“Sometimes when something is broken, it can be hard to tell what it once was. It can be hard to imagine the potential that it once had, or still has. However, a broken pencil can write again.
I have always been happiest covered in paint. I have always felt different and wanted to communicate how I saw the world with paint and photographs.
They say all that is a phase though. How can art be a career? I was lost for so long, wondering where I can fit, how can I be a useful part of the world?
Severe anxiety and depression helped me make the decision to leave high school when I was sixteen. I never knew what I wanted to do because of how often I heard that college is not on the horizon for me, and that art is not a reliable career path. No one in my family has gone to college, so how can I be the first?
My sons, 4 and 8, gave me purpose. They also taught me what an impact, even the little things, make on a child's life. I wonder about whether I am doing a good enough job at raising them. I specifically recall struggling in the second grade. My anxiety was overwhelming, but my classroom had a teacher’s aide this particular year. She could see I needed her. She simply gave me attention, held my hand, and even secretly gave me a dime on bake sale days, as I often came to school without. If only the world were full of people like her!
I want that for all children. Could I become a teacher's assistant and pay it back? My heart swelled at the idea. I looked into it. I needed my high school diploma.
I called EdAdvance and the woman I spoke with gave me hope that I could be a good example for my sons. She told me there were several ways to earn my high school diploma, and given my situation, the NEDP was the best choice. I could stay home and work on my own time. I felt like I had met my fairy Godmother.
I was grateful to be able to learn at my own pace. The support I received at EdAdvance was akin to that teacher's aide years ago. I felt like I needed to prove myself. Completing all the work for the NEDP to receive my diploma was my way of showing myself that I had graphite, the means to leave a mark. I did not realize that the process would inspire me to love learning. When they told me I had completed all requirements, I was happy. My next thought surprised me though, "what's next?” I want to sharpen myself now. I have a feeling of pride and accomplishment I did not think possible. I earned my tassel, hung it proudly on my rear-view mirror, as any other grad would, just at age 36. I truly believe I can do anything now, and I plan to.”
Carissa, we know you can do it! We wish you all the best as you continue your studies at Tunxis Community College and continue to be an outstanding mother and inspiration to your sons.