Janieka’s Story

Janieka Lewis, GED Student

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My name is Janieka Lewis. I am 34 years old and am from Hartford, CT. I’ve lived here all my life, born and raised. I went to Weaver High School then moved to Windsor, CT where I then attended Windsor High. I dropped out of high school in the 11th grade. I eventually attempted to go back to high school where I attended the adult education program on Locust Street in Hartford. That didn’t last long. I became pregnant with my daughter and dropped out. I did attempt several times since then to go back to school after I had my second daughter and actually took the GED test and didn’t pass. I passed everything with high scores except the math. At that point, I just gave up.

One day I was at home doing much of nothing and I got a phone call from someone at the Sawyer Business School asking me about if I wanted to go back to school and I said “yes.” They told me about their program and how I could earn a trade and also receive my GED. That sounded good so I went down and filled out all the paper work and I was ready to start. I did stick with it for a while; did my classes and also practiced for my GED. When I was told that I was ready to take my test over, I went and did it. I was so certain that this time I had passed but I was wrong again. I failed. I gave up.

For a while I did nothing with myself. I think I had convinced myself that I do not need a GED or high school diploma to make it. “I’ve made it this far without one”, I told myself. Now there I was, 28 years old, about to have my third child and still no high school diploma. One day an acquaintance of mine and I were having a conversation about working and that her employer was hiring but I would need a high school diploma or GED. I told her I don’t have either. I explained to her that I had tried so many times to get my GED and all I needed was to pass the math but I just couldn’t seem to get it together. She then told me about this H.O.M.E program where there are not a lot of students. I got the number and called, went down there and once again I was on the roll… so I thought. I didn’t finish. I let everything else take over. I wasn’t focused enough and I left. For a while I didn’t look back. I pretended it didn’t even matter anymore. I just knew I was throwing in the towel.

At 32, I was about to have another child (4) and still had no high school diploma: raising four girls, trying to raise them up the right way, telling them to finish school because you “don’t want to be like me.” One day my oldest daughter and I were having one of our regular mother and daughter talks and she says to me “you know ma I want to be just like you when I grow up, but no disrespect I just want to finish school and graduate when I’m supposed to.” I wasn’t even upset. I was happy because I want her to do what she’s supposed to do. Here I am preaching to them about going to school and how it’s never too late to do what you want to do in life but yet I’m not applying that for myself. Something’s wrong with that picture and I need to fix it and fast.

When I was preparing myself to go back to school or to do something with my life tragedy hit close… I had to bury my eight-month-old baby girl. She just stopped breathing out of nowhere. Here she was, this healthy, happy baby with no sickness and out of nowhere one night God decides he’s calling one of his angels back home. This was devastating, heartbreaking. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

A couple of months after her death I decided that I wanted to go back to school and work in the social service field. That’s always been a passion for me.  I attempted again to go for my GED and I didn’t get far, I was still grieving. I thought going to school and trying to do something better with myself would make me feel better but it didn’t. Now here it is almost two years since losing my daughter. I’m back and it feels GREAT! It feels better this time around than any other time because I’m more focused. I’m committed and I’m more serious than I’ve ever been.

The program I now attend has helped mold me into the person I had hiding inside of me this whole time, just scared of the success it might bring. I am so forever grateful for all of my experiences; the good, the bad, and the ugly because it has made me the woman and mother that I am today. Today I am proud to say that I now have four beautiful, healthy girls Harmonee, 14, Ja’Dyia, 12, Cherish, 6, and my newest addition Liberty, five months. I am proud of myself because my girls are proud of me. They encourage me and tell me how happy they are that I finally did it. I have a loving wonderful support system the best one anyone can ever ask for.

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