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6 Inspiring Individuals Who Found Success After Dropping Out of High School

August 29, 2023 | Tracie Hummel

6 Inspiring Individuals Who Found Success After Dropping Out of High School image

I want to drop out and get my GED.

Why is high school so important?

What happens if I drop out of high school?

If you’ve ever had one of the above thoughts or even spoken one (or more!) out loud, we totally get it. High school is hard, especially if you’re dealing with family situations, health struggles, bullying, learning challenges or any other circumstance that makes attending a traditional high school difficult.

The good news is that you’re not alone. And even better? High school doesn’t have to be this way. Meet six young people who reclaimed their education after facing hardships and dropping out of high school.

➡️ How to finish high school a different way


Zamaria Farris, Caretaker and Aspiring Cosmetologist

Zamaria Farris holds up her phone to show a picture of her brother Donovan

“She pushes me, in a good way,” Zamaria on her graduation candidate advocate at Acceleration Academies of Ector County

Zamaria Farris left her traditional high school for many reasons, including overcrowded hallways, teachers who couldn’t support her and a need to care for her developmentally disabled brother Donovan. Her mother’s demanding work schedule left Zamaria responsible for her brother’s care, making a traditional school schedule unmanageable. At Acceleration Academies of Ector County (EAA), she found a personalized and flexible learning environment that allows her to balance her caregiving duties with her high school education. Now Zamaria is on her way to pursuing her dreams of becoming a cosmetologist.

>> Meet Zamaria


Malu Montero Britto, Future Interior Designer

Teenage girl types on computer keyboard.

“What I really like is that there are teachers here who are going to help me graduate. I want to graduate because I want to have a better opportunity here in the United States. If you want a professional job, you need a degree,” Malu on the importance of a high school diploma

Malu Montero Britto moved to the US from Peru in 5th grade and faced many challenges during the transition including language barriers and hostility from peers. Due to bullying and instability during her high school experience, she decided to drop out and attempt an online GED program, but she struggled without teacher support. That’s when Malu discovered Gwinnett County Acceleration Academies (GCAA). Flexible scheduling allowed Malu to work full-time while attending campus three days a week. With a new sense of confidence, Malu, who aspires to study interior design in college, is on her way to earning her high school diploma.

>> Meet Malu 


Christian Gentele, Athlete and Academic Leader

Graduate smiles in cap and gown, flanked by family members

“She was having me focus on the future, not get stuck in the past,” Christian on one of his coaches at Bethel Acceleration Academies

Christian Gentele was a standout football player and popular kid. Like many other high schoolers, he lost focus on his academics and favored the social and athletic aspects of school. Before he knew it, he had fallen behind by two years and realized his dreams of playing college football were about to come to a screeching halt. To get back on course, he joined Bethel Acceleration Academies (BAA) in Spanaway, Washington, and was able to complete two years of studies in one. Thanks to the personalized coaching, one-course-at-a-time approach and quiet learning spaces at BAA, he graduated with the recent Class of 2023. With a renewed passion for learning, Christian is excited to see where the future takes him on and off the field.

>> Meet Christian


Tamia King, Working Mom With Dreams In Healthcare

Young mom and high school graduate Tamia smiles at graduation ceremony holding her baby

“I was dealing with trying to be a mom, go to work and juggle school. I needed to work to make sure I had everything I needed for myself and for my baby. I reached the point where I was going to give up…I was going to quit school,” Tamia on the breaking point that led her to Wichita Acceleration Academies

Tamia King was a strong student at a magnet school focused on legal studies when she welcomed her son R.J. during her sophomore year. As a teen mom juggling school, work, the demands of motherhood, Tamia felt like she had no option other than to quit school.  But then she found out about Wichita Acceleration Academies (WAA), which works in partnership with Wichita Public Schools to provide a flexible, personalized path for students like Tamia who are considering or have already dropped out of high school. Tamia thrived at WAA and earned her high school diploma. She is on her way to becoming an ultrasound technician and one day hopes to be an OB/GYN.

>> Meet Tamia


Leslye Calderon, Up and Coming Esthetician 

Leslye Alondra-Calderon graduation shot

“Basically, I had dropped out. I was really focused on how am I going to take care of my mom and my brothers. It took a lot for me to build up the spark in me to continue going to school. But I knew that I didn’t want to be stuck. I encouraged myself and pushed myself to re-enroll,” Leslye discusses the second chance she found at Clark County Acceleration Academies

Leslye Alondra Calderon is a determined high school graduate who faced her challenges head-on. Leslye was always a strong student but when her family needed her during her month’s health crisis, Leslye put her education on the backburner. Despite wanting to continue school, family duties took precedence, causing her to drop out temporarily. Enter Clark County Acceleration Academies (CCAA). The school’s flexible schedule and support allowed her to care for her family while attending high school and eventually earning her diploma. Leslye’s story is a testament to resilience, determination and the importance of family. Now, she helps run her family business and plans to attend cosmetology school and become an esthetician. 

>> Meet Leslye


Yanko Ariosa, Future Business Owner 

Yanko Arioso smiles with friend

“At my other school, my teachers saw me as ‘that kid’ and told me to sit at the back of the class. Miss Maria, she helped me a lot. She believed in me,” Yanko praises the supportive staff at Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies

Yanko Arioso is a proud member of the Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies Class of 2023 who acknowledges that his path may have been much darker without the flexible high school. Yanko was born in Cuba and moved to Miami for a better life, but he faced many struggles in his traditional high school including brushes with the law. During his sophomore year, he transferred to MDAA and changed the course of his life forever. At MDAA, Yanko found the  focus, encouragement and guidance he needed to get back on track towards his high school diploma. Yanko is well on his way to achieve his dreams of studying business in college, starting his own construction business — and making his parents proud. 

>> Meet Yanko


Zamaria, Malu, Christian, Tamia, Leslye and Yanko have one thing in common: they claimed ownership over their education after dropping out or giving up on their traditional high school. These six inspiring young people are among the thousands who have earned their high school diplomas through Acceleration Academies, a program that works in partnership with local school districts to give students a more supportive and flexible journey towards a high school diploma. 

If you are considering dropping out of high school, or maybe you already have, we hope these stories will inspire you and remind you that it’s never too late. There are many reasons why a high school diploma is important, but perhaps the most important is that it gives you a sense of pride and confidence, setting the foundation for a lifetime of success. If you are ready to get back on track after dropping out, find your nearest Acceleration Academies location and get started today.



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