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Speaker: Otan Outreach and Technical Assistance Network.

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RI'KEISHIA SEWARD: I'm Ri'Keishia Seward. I'm 43 from Oakland, California.

Erica Harrison: Born February 12th, 1981. Eight pounds, 16 ounces, 21 and a 1/2 inches long.

RI'KEISHIA SEWARD: My family, we're getting back into school and obtaining my high school diploma, which was something important for me to have.

Jovon Jenkins Jr: She had me at 16, and then my brother two years and 11 months later after that.

RI'KEISHIA SEWARD: I've been flat out told me and my kids will never be nothing, but welfare recipients. We live in a statistical area where people like myself don't usually succeed in certain areas.

Erica Harrison: She tried to show them the positive way to do things because coming up in Oakland, we all know can be very challenging.

Jovon Jenkins Jr: School was important in my family. My mom hadn't had graduated and my dad haven't graduated either. So he just was like always telling us how they wanted us to be better than what they are or do better than what they did in school.

Jaboree Jenkins: She pushed us to school. She made sure that school was like a number one priority in our life.

Jovon Jenkins Jr: During the summers, she would give us assignments ourselves, like we have to read a book or a part of a book and we would have to write like a page or a paragraph about what we read.

Jaboree Jenkins: She always was there. She made sure that no matter what, she was going to be there. No matter what, she loved us and she made sure that she showed that.

Opal MacK: Her motivation to go back to school was attained the next chapter of her life.

Yejide Nelson-glenn: She just asked all the right questions that a student coming into this type of program should be asking: What does Zoom look like? What does the session look like? What are the type of things are we going to cover while we're zooming in that session?

RI'KEISHIA SEWARD: It didn't take much to reel me in. They had everything that I needed support-wise, the goal that I was going for and the help that I needed.

Yejide Nelson-glenn: Working with highlands, what I like about them, they live true to their motto, it's never too late.

Opal MacK: The best part about it was that she could do it at her own pace and she had a wonderful teacher.

RI'KEISHIA SEWARD: They're so nice, so I'm comfortable speaking to them and meeting up with them.

Opal MacK: It was a Thursday, and she was getting help from her teacher.

RI'KEISHIA SEWARD: Ms. G checks in with me often.

Opal MacK: I was like, wow, you guys got a good dynamic going on.

Yejide Nelson-glenn: Even when she is not in attendance to our meetings, she'll text, call, email. Just very responsible in her communication.

RI'KEISHIA SEWARD: Again, I've been through a toad. I could not, would not, my children would never, but that didn't stop me.

Yejide Nelson-glenn: To attend school, to work a full-time job, and to care for her family. And the way that she cares for them so lovingly. And with care, that says a lot about a person.

Opal MacK: She never wavered. She was always, I got to get this, I got to do this, I got to do that, but she stayed the course.

Jovon Jenkins Jr: I seen her doing the schoolwork and making sure that it was a priority for her to get it finished and get it done.

Yejide Nelson-glenn: We try to take out the worry, the stress out of returning back to school.

RI'KEISHIA SEWARD: With this program, they give me the books and the materials that I need, but I also have a teacher that I'm able to meet up with. There's tutoring and areas where I'm possibly having difficulties in.

Yejide Nelson-glenn: We provide free laptops, we also provide free internet if you need it, free cell phones so that you can have communication.

RI'KEISHIA SEWARD: You have-- someone that's there that's willing to help. You have that support system. So take advantage of it.

Yejide Nelson-glenn: She's doing extraordinary even in her career now.

Erica Harrison: She was already a supervisor. I work for Ri'Keishia. Every time we turn around, she's getting another ward, another ward, another ward.

RI'KEISHIA SEWARD: Proved them all wrong. Both of my boys have their high school diploma and have started into college, and I've got mine now as well. So I'm happy.

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