Frustrated, and struggling with her mental health 12-year-old Aayla felt like she had nobody on her side. Feeling lost in a public school, her family made the decision to enroll her into Adelphoi’s Partial program. After a year, and doing well, she returned to the same middle school, but started to fall back into the same patterns and began to struggle again.
Then came the recommendation to attend the Ketterer Charter School, but she was hesitant. She had already failed a grade and was behind. Her family knew that something needed to change, so she enrolled in the Charter School hoping that this would be the change that she needed. It turned out that it was just what Aayla needed.
“The Charter School gave me the structure that I needed,” said Aayla. “The teachers understood that I wanted to do better, but just needed a little bit of guidance and structure. They didn’t give up on me.”
Aalya says that remembers her teachers telling her “you can do this.” She worked daily to learn coping skills that she still uses today. She also worked to recover academic credits and was able to graduate on time.
“One of the biggest things that I was able to realize while at the Charter School was that I have potential and I can achieve my goals. I also have a lot more self-worth. My past does not define me,” expressed Aayla.
Since graduating from the Charter School in 2017, Aayla attended the Westmoreland County Community College with the help of the Adelphoi Promise and will graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Fine Arts in May. The Adelphoi Promise is financial aid and support for students who successfully complete an Adelphoi program. It will provide up to 2 years of tuition at one of nine community colleges in Pennsylvania.
Aayla recently received a full-tuition scholarship for Indiana University of PA where she will attend in the fall and study digital design. Her dream is to be a freelance animator and is excited about the opportunities that she will have.
“I was so dumbfounded, surprised and very grateful –almost a sense of relief,” said Aayla describing her feelings when she found out about the scholarship. “Now I can focus on getting a job and not worry about paying back school loans.”
Aayla was awarded the scholarship from the All-USA/All-PA Community College Academic Team which is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group, Phi Theta Kappa, the American Association of Community Colleges, and the Coca Cola Foundation. It is awarded to students who excel academically, demonstrate intellectual rigor in their course of study, show academic growth and potential, and use their two-year college education to better themselves, their schools and their communities.
Aayla will also represent Westmoreland County Community College for the All-Pennsylvania Academic Team Awards and will also be named the WCCC outstanding student of the year.
Aayla was nominated by Lynna Thomas, Special Populations Counselor at Westmoreland County Community College. Lynna works as a mentor to the Adelphoi Promise students who attend WCCC.
“Aayla is a student that will make the most of every opportunity that is provided to her, and she is so worthy of this honor. I have looked forward to nominating her for this award for quite some time now; she has always been a student that came to mind when I thought about this academic team. She represents all that is great about ambition, growth, opportunity and the community college experience. I am so proud of her, and humbled to have been a part of her journey,” expressed Lynna.
Aayla is excited for her future and credits her family, especially her mom and grandfather, her best friend as well as the staff of WCCC and the Ketterer Charter School for supporting her. “They are always my cheerleaders.”