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Queens Student Overcomes Major Family Health Challenge with Academic Triumph

Queens Student Overcomes Major Family Health Challenge with Academic Triumph

Ashley Rodriguez worried her father would never see her graduate from high school. In eighth grade, she learned he had cancer, and over the next few months, her father’s health quickly deteriorated as he underwent radiation treatments. Ashley put on a brave face at school, but her sleepless nights took a toll. When she entered Newtown High School in Queens five months after his diagnosis, Ashley was motivated to make something positive out of a negative situation. Diplomas Now helped her do just that.

This year, Ashley, 17, will graduate as one of the top students in her class—with both of her parents healthy, and proudly watching. In front of her: Acceptance letters from at least four colleges where she can study psychology, bringing her one step closer to her dream of becoming a police officer.

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Fights and Anger Replaced by a Big Scholarship and Even Bigger Goals

Fights and Anger Replaced by a Big Scholarship and Even Bigger Goals

When Moises Arzu was a high school freshman, he got into a fight with his basketball coach and stormed off the court—in the middle of a game. This year, instead of walking off the court, Moises plans to stride purposefully across the stage at Booker T. Washington High School’s graduation ceremony in Miami. The former regular at after-school detention today is the proud recipient of a Florida Bright Futures college scholarship worth $100,000, awarded for outstanding academic performance.

Moises is part of the first class of students who have had Diplomas Now at their high schools for four full years. Moises paints a grim picture of what his life could have been like without the support of Diplomas Now, a partnership of Talent Development Secondary at Johns Hopkins, City Year and Communities In Schools.

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Ready to Graduate After Four Years with Diplomas Now

Ready to Graduate After Four Years with Diplomas Now

Four years ago, Stevaughn Dowdy was a tall – almost 5’11’’ – quiet, withdrawn freshman at The English High School in Boston. His mother had died unexpectedly, and he had to move in with his aunt. His charismatic cousin was pressing Stevaughn to join his powerful gang. Under extreme stress, Stevaughn responded by punching and breaking school windows, cutting class, and refusing to respond to adults’ questions. His report card had an F, three Cs and two Bs. He missed eight days of school and was late 22 times that year.

Today, as a senior, Stevaughn is still tall but he is captain of The English’s varsity football and basketball teams, has near perfect attendance, excellent behavior and had two Bs and five As, including an A+ on his report card. He is applying to four-year colleges. Stevaughn credits Diplomas Now, which has been operating at The English for four years, with helping him make the right decisions and get on track.

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Starting the School Year Off Right

Starting the School Year Off Right

The 2014-2015 school year is off to a strong start at Diplomas Now schools. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that the Burke High School in Boston has met its turnaround goals. Texas state metrics show Burbank High School is the most successful comprehensive high school in the San Antonio Independent School District. Sophomores at Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, D.C., made double-digit gains on reading proficiency tests.

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DNSI 2014

More than 250 adults from 15 cities convened in Baltimore for the sixth annual Diplomas Now Summer Institute where they explored their work in keeping kids on track to high school graduation. The event featured enrichment workshops and sessions, as well as thought-provoking discussions among dedicated individuals, several of whom were recognized for their exemplary contributions. Check out this year’s award winners!

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