"I thought ‘I'm staying home alone, what am I doing here? Both of my kids are in school.’ So I talked to my husband, and said ‘I think I want to go back and get my GED.’"
“I'm 23 years old,” says Daisy Benavides. “I'm the youngest of six children. We were raised in Houston, on the north side over by the Heights area.
I was seventeen when I got pregnant. Unfortunately when I was 3 or 4 months into the pregnancy, the father of my child passed away. It was hard. But after my daughter was born, maybe when she was a year old, I actually met my husband, and we started living together.
My husband, he actually has a son. At the time, he was 5 or 6 years old. I was a senior in high school. My sister would usually take care of my baby, but once I started living with my husband, it became a lot for me to go to school and pick up my husband's son, and pick up my daughter, and going back and forth. I was really overwhelmed. Still, I was actually thinking that I was about to graduate, and I went to have a meeting with my counselor. But she said, no, you're short on credits. I was really bummed out. They actually wanted me to do another senior year. So I just thought, ‘you know what, I'm just gonna stop.’ So I stopped going to school.
At the time, it sounded like the right thing to do, to me. My husband has a pretty good job, he's a contractor. He works for himself. So it was easy for me to say ‘OK, I'll just stay home with the kids, and you can go work.’ And for five, six years, I stayed home with the kids.
Recently, my daughter started going to school. She’s in first grade. And we moved from the Houston area to the Cleveland area. It was a big change, living out in the country. And I thought ‘I'm staying home alone, what am I doing here? Both of my kids are in school.’ So I talked to my husband, and said ‘I think I want to go back and get my GED.’ So I was in class and everything, and that's when [HYPE Career Coach] Elizabeth [Cantu] showed up. She started telling us about the [Helping Young People Excel - HYPE] program. And yeah, the rest is history. She signed me up, and I've been working with her ever since.“
“I was speaking to her about the program,” says Elizabeth Cantu. “She was slightly hesitant, because for a lot of the youth it's hard to believe that it’s free. I get asked plenty of times ‘well, what do you get in return?’ Definitely not a bonus, or anything like that! I'm not a salesperson. We're not T-Mobile or anything. So finally we spoke more, and she got more comfortable with me, and she filled out her application. She took her TABE test. And because everything is so close in Cleveland, she never really utilized the gas assistance.”
“SER helped me get my GED,” says Daisy. “Because at the time, it was really expensive to keep taking the practice tests, to try and see if I can go into the real test. So SER helped me pay for all of that.
Elizabeth actually helped me get one of my first jobs. I worked at a nursing home. Elizabeth spoke with the administrator and we had a meeting with her, and she agreed to help me try to get me some sort of experience. Because I had been a stay at home mom for so long. So Elizabeth actually helped me get a job in the nursing home in Cleveland. I was working, and I was also going to GED classes.”
“Everybody at her worksite, they have nothing but good things to say about Daisy,” says Elizabeth.
“And then my time was up at the nursing home,” says Daisy. “I got my GED. And now I got hired for the GED instructor's aide position with the Harris County Department of Education. It was actually really funny, because when I went to my job interview, they actually had my graduation picture up on the wall.
I will be helping the bilingual instructor. I'm really excited, because I'm going to be working with my teacher, the one that taught me through my GED. I'm really excited about it. And Elizabeth has been really helpful, she's been telling me ‘keep me informed, let me know what they tell you.’ She's been trying to keep up to date with everything. She's been awesome.
I think I want to go into nursing or into teaching. I'm hoping that while I’m a teacher's aide with the HCDE, they will kind of help me get more into teaching. And also,I liked working at a nursing home a lot. I thought ‘Maybe this is something that I want to look into, something that I want to work towards.’ And maybe sometime next year, I wanted to see if I could enroll into Kingwood Community College. So I'm hoping that's where I'll be: working towards college, and maybe working towards a better career.
I'm trying to work towards getting a good head start. Life is pretty good.”
If you would like to learn more about the Helping Young People Excel program, click here