When Haley Essick left high school the first time as a teenager, she had earned only 13 credits.
When she went back to high school at age 25, she earned her Indiana Core 40 high school diploma with Technical Honors, plus six college credits through Ivy Tech Community College, a logistics associate certificate and workplace certifications in safety and forklift operations.
Her education helped her land a job as a logistics specialist with IU Health at Methodist Hospital. And it was all provided at no cost by Goodwill of Central Indiana, which runs The Excel Center, a high school for adult students.
“You get college credit while getting your high school diploma, you can tell your teachers really care and they helped me get job interviews after a career-building class where they showed me how to write a resume,” Essick says. “And it was all free.”
High school diploma, not GED: “I had been thinking about going back to school to get a GED, but I thought a high school diploma would be more credible to employers,” Essick says. “My aunt saw an ad about the Excel Center, I made a call and they called me back and set up my orientation date. I started about a month later, and my advisor told me that if I stayed on track, I would finish in a year. I was so surprised that, a year later, it happened. I graduated.” The pace of learning was fast, she says. “I wanted to get it done so I could get started on my career.”
Tackling her biggest fear: “Math was always my worst subject,” Essick says. “That was my biggest fear, that I would not make it through the math classes. You have to pass the end-of-course assessment because you are earning a high school diploma, but when I passed, it felt amazing.” The support from Excel Center staff was excellent, she says. “They don’t let you get discouraged. They walk you through every step of the way.”
Prepped for the future: Working with hospital inventory and supplies is a satisfying career, Essick says. “It is one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever had because people really appreciate what you do,” she says. With her high school diploma, she’s also thinking about opportunities in nursing, too.
Tuition-free School for Adults
The Excel Center offers an accelerated learning model that fits the needs of adult students, with locations in Indianapolis, Noblesville, Anderson, Kokomo, Lafayette, Richmond and South Bend. Enrollment is open to any Indiana resident who does not have a high school diploma. Individuals who have a GED may still enroll to earn an Indiana Core 40 high school diploma, as well as training in partnership with employers for career opportunities in high-demand jobs. Find out more at excelcenter.org.