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Beating the Statistics and Having it All

At 30 years of age, Ana-Maria has everything she wants…career, family and an education that will never fail her. All because she chose to pursue her GED with Dallas Can! Academy. Ana-Maria, like more than 40% of Latina teenagers in Texas, found herself pregnant with her first child while in school. Struggling to continue on in school while being raising her child was more than a challenge…it was near impossible. After finishing the eighth grade, Ana-Maria did what many teens with families do. She dropped out of high school. “The summer I got out of ninth grade, I decided to drop out of high school and get my GED [General Equivalency Diploma],” she said. “I tested at Live Oak and was told I could take the GED test within a few weeks without having to attend the regular classes.” However, she didn’t give up. She went in search of a school that could meet her needs. Then she found Dallas Can! Academy. She chose Dallas Can! Academy, which was located on Live Oak Street at that time, because she wanted to make immediate changes in her life. Dallas Can! Afforded her the flexibility to raise her family while still pursuing an education. “It was such a short period for me, but I enjoyed that there was a program that was tailored to fit my immediate needs,” Ana-Maria said. “I was able to get in and get out and move to the next stage in my life.” She was able to take the GED test that summer. Earning her GED in 1995, she immediately put it to good use by enrolling at Dallas County Community College District at Eastfield. She quickly earned her Associate’s Degree in General Studies, then moved on to the University of Texas at Arlington to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. By the end of December, she will graduate with her Master’s of Business Administration. She plans on starting law school within a year. Today, Ana-Maria is the Executive Director of the Jubilee Community Center where she works with hundreds of families and children in the Jubilee Park neighborhood, revitalizing the community. “I was working in Marketing and Sales for another non-profit, but I wanted to work with the community and reach out to kids and families who were experiencing the same struggles I had growing up,” she said. “Dallas Can! Provided me the hand up I needed to keep moving.”




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