By Cheryl Reidenouer, Career Navigator
Holly Hunter was one of the student speakers at the HSE May 2015 Graduation Ceremony. Holly told her fellow graduates that “we got here . . . finally”. She said her fear of succeeding, fear of failing, fear of what if I can’t do this and fear of what if it never goes anywhere kept her from getting her High School Equivalency Diploma in the past. In September, Holly’s father-in-law passed away. He was a very important person in Holly’s life, and she promised him she would do it this time. She said this is for him, her four children, her husband, and her grandmother. Holly said hope for a better future is what brought us here. She ended her inspirational speech by telling the other graduates, “Let’s do this, let’s graduate!
Holly said she ran away from home in January of her junior year of high school. She said she was basically staying in a park and living out of her car. She became ill because of malnutrition and improper care. She developed bacteria in her throat that causes infections. It was first thought she had mumps in her throat. Eventually she ended up staying with her aunt and uncle and sometimes friends. She eventually dropped out of high school at the beginning of her senior year as she was unable to keep up with school work. Holly did have an IEP for extra help as she had been determined to have a reading disability. Her mother stopped special services for Holly at the end of her junior year. In April of her of her junior year her aunt helped her through the process of becoming an emancipated minor. Holly eventually met her husband and they married when she was 18 years old. She became a stay-at-home mom, eventually becoming a home day care provider for children of other family members. Over the years she had jobs with a cleaning company, gas stations, and eventually AllSteel where she worked for 4 years. She quit working there to care for her father-in-law who had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
After lots of hard work and many hours of study and preparation, Holly earned her High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) on April 24, 2015. She began attending Muscatine Community College in August 2015. She is now studying Business Management with an emphasis in Accounting. Holly said she and her husband hope to eventually start their own business: an Arcade and Party Center where customers can hold birthday parties and other life events.
The Iowa Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) administered by Region 9 IowaWORKS are helping to cover Holly’s college tuition costs. As a HSE program completer, EICC awarded her a voucher for 3 credit hours. Holly’s hope for a better future has brought her far. We wish her the best and many successes in the future.