Dominique, with her 4-year-old son looking on, stood behind a podium and addressed a packed room of fellow Goodwill program graduates during a ceremony last summer at Seattle Goodwill’s Administration Building. Fighting back tears, she delivered an inspirational message of determination and hope.
Every graduate that day had an achievement to be proud of. For Dominique, though, earning her High School 21+ (HS21+) diploma was more than a decade in the making.
“It felt really good, because my son kept saying, ‘Congratulations,’” Dominique recalled. “Every day still, ‘Happy congratulations, mommy.’ My kids encourage me a lot, and to share that moment with him … He was just smiling and happy.”
Dominique has been playing catch-up ever since she gave birth to her daughter at 17 years old. Raising an infant ended her pursuit of a high school diploma. She’s tried earning her degree multiple times since, but the barriers of being a single mom always proved too difficult.
“I felt so comfortable at Goodwill. They were there to help, and I never really had that before. It’s all about encouraging and lifting people up. I can’t really explain the feeling, but when you feel it, you just engage with it. When I felt that, I knew I was going to finish." - Dominique
Adding to Dominique’s full plate was the birth of her son in 2014. He was born with club feet, and Dominique was crushed when in 2015 he received a cancer diagnosis.
But through hardship came inspiration.
“I tried getting my GED without the help of Goodwill a couple of years ago when I had my son,” Dominique explained. “It didn’t work out because of school, and I kind of got discouraged.”
Drawing inspiration from her son’s health complications and his unwavering positive attitude, Dominique committed herself to improving her life and reignited her passion to work in the medical field. She also desired to be a positive role model for her teenage daughter, who looks up to Dominique.
“I decided to go back and get my diploma,” Dominique said. “I said, ‘You know what? I am not going to quit.’ I told myself I have to do it. I have no other option. My kids look up to me. I am going to be the best that I can be for my kids.”
So Dominique visited her local Goodwill Job Training and Education Center.
Staff pushed her toward earning her HS21+ diploma, provided critical support services and offered emotional support when she was down.
“I felt so comfortable at Goodwill,” Dominique said. “They were there to help, and I never really had that before. It’s all about encouraging and lifting people up. I can’t really explain the feeling, but when you feel it, you just engage with it. When I felt that, I knew I was going to finish.”
Dominique obtained her diploma and went a step further. She enrolled in college and is working toward her nursing degree. Goodwill supported Dominique by identifying the best schooling options available.
The cancer Dominique’s son had is in remission, and he recently underwent a surgical procedure to help cure his clubbed feet. Although Dominique’s life is hectic with school, work and raising two children, she takes solace in knowing Goodwill is always there to help.