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Patricia Holmes: Early in my childhood, around when I was I don't know, maybe eight or 10 years old, I was in and out of foster home. That didn't work out, so I ended up back with my mother. By me going back with my mother, I was-- didn't have the guidance of someone telling me that school was important.

Jeanette Sem: She had a rough upbringing, family wasn't too supportive, and she just, you know, she dropped out very early.

Patricia Holmes: When I'm 15, 16, I ended up having a child and ended up getting in some trouble with the law. I met a guy, married him, turned out not being the best relationship. That lasted for 14 years.

Jerry Yamashita: Before she started coming here, she had a falling out with her husband. He left. Subsequently, Patricia found herself in a housing crisis, no transportation, left with the children.

Patricia Holmes: I feel like I didn't have anything but then I had to keep thinking, "OK, you got your kids, you got your kids. You got to keep moving, Pat." I was like, Oh, I want to move, I want to do this, I need to do-- I need so much I need to do. But I don't know how because I wasn't taught that when I was a younger kid.

Jerry Yamashita: So she came here to Urban League, found the Highlands Program, got into it.

Patricia Holmes: Came to the school and I came upstairs and first thing, the nurse kicked me out. So I left. And I got on the phone when I got home and called Gloria, the case manager here, and I told her about it. She was like nope, you're going to come back in here. And I was like OK, so I stayed.

Kevin Daniel: Her self-esteem probably wasn't at the highest level when she came in here. And we spent a lot of time just talking to Patricia, just trying to just give her some strength to figure out what she wants to do and make a plan for the rest of her life.

Danielle Searcy: She always wanted to be a big role model for her daughter because her daughter watches her a lot, and she just wanted to make sure she got that high school diploma to let her daughter know that it was important, how important education was.

Kevin Daniel: I know she would drop her kids off, hop on a bus, come to Urban League, like, every day.

Patricia Holmes: It took me damn near three hours to get here and three hours to get home because I had to get my kids and I had to take them to school on the bus. Sometimes I missed the bus. It'd zoom by me and I'd be like, oh, shoot, I'm going home. But I was like no, I'm going to keep going, I'm going to go to school. It's OK. Jerry said I can be late. As long as I get there, it's OK.

Jeanette Sem: I've watched her become more assertive and more confident as she's gained more education. She's been more OK with taking leadership roles, speaking up, and just really advocating for herself and other students.

Jerry Yamashita: By the end of her time with us here, she was already on to helping other students-- doing presentations, showing other students how to do things in the advanced books. The change was significant. I remember it so vividly at the end of the graduation, when all the students were coming out. I look at her, and she has all her kids there and her face is just glowing, and she's so proud and her kids are so proud of her.

Patricia Holmes: It was-- they loved it, seeing their mom graduate. They've seen the struggle. They've been through the struggle and they saw the struggle. And they've seen the tears and everything. And by me walking that stage, it was like, go ahead, Mom, you got this.

Kevin Daniel: Tricia as a person right now, whatever she wants to do, she knows she can do it. There's no barriers, there's no-- I think nothing's in her way.

Patricia Holmes: Highlands gave me so much support. They taught me so many things and I got help getting my record expunged. When I finally got that letter, I was like, you're doing your thing, girl. You're on your way.

Danielle Searcy: One of the biggest success stories-- she came in office excited and told me where she was working at. And I was shocked. I'm like, that's awesome.

Jerry Yamashita: She's working for an agency that helps homeless people find housing and resources.

Patricia Holmes: I'm changing a lot of dang lives, and it feel good to me. When I walk in my job, I walk in with a big smile. And I just smile for eight hours, because this is what I like to do. Follow your dream. Don't let nothing get in your way. Follow your dream.

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