For Selena Brown, the journey towards achieving her high school diploma has been a long one. But she’s taking it one day at a time.
A resident of New Community Gardens Family, Brown, 21, is currently enrolled in NCC Workforce Development Center’s Academic Enrichment and High School Diploma Program for Older Youth. Under the guidance of her instructor, Odette Phillip, Brown and her classmates are learning subjects ranging from language arts and math to science, social studies and life skills.
Earning a high school diploma is a challenging task for Brown, who has been out of school for several years but still has her dream career in sight. “I want to be a nurse,” she said.
From around 2007 to 2012, Brown said that she left New Jersey and moved to South Carolina, where she worked as a janitor. After returning to New Jersey, she moved to Gardens Family housing, where she now lives with family.
She enrolled in the Academic Enrichment and High School Diploma Program for Older Youth in October, where she attends class Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Science is her favorite subject but she’s still struggling in math.
“The main goal is to get them from the point where they came in to a higher level,” Phillip, her instructor, said. To that end, Phillip starts each class by reviewing homework before launching into the day’s lessons. At the end of the course, her students take the high school equivalency exam. From there, students move on to enrolling in a vocational training program offered at the Workforce Development Center, apply for a job or apply for college.
“The Workforce Development Center program staff understands the importance of providing quality academic services combined with exposure to careers that are in demand,” said Rodney Brutton, director of Workforce Development. “We are committed to helping our young people attain their high school diploma, connect to quality vocational training programs and enter the workforce.”
Each lesson helps to prepare Brown to eventually take the exam, but she also realizes that there is more work to do before reaching that point.
“I know a lot more but I still need to learn more,” she said.