Overcoming Education Roadblocks

By United Way of King County, on February 9, 2017 | In Helping Students Graduate, Success Stories

If you moved to three different continents in your childhood, how might your education play out differently?

That’s what Nimco faced. Her father’s job in humanitarian aid moved their family from Seattle to Egypt to Lebanon and back to Seattle. With each move, Nimco faced a new education system, culture and language. At first, in elementary and middle school, the moves didn’t hinder her love of learning. She kept up in school despite having to repeat a few classes when they didn’t transfer.

Returning to Seattle was what brought the most culture shock—and education shock.

“Education was always important to my parents, and they passed that on to us kids,” Nimco said. “So I thought it was just all the different schools I went to, having to switch learning environments and all that. But the truth was I wasn’t a good test taker. That’s hard no matter what country you live in.”

In Washington, students have to pass certain state tests to receive a diploma. The reading and writing exam was easy for Nimco. Math was the roadblock.

“I failed it twice in a row. The test counted for 80% of my grade in my math class. I knew all the material but it all just disappeared from my brain. It was so discouraging,” she said.

Would An Education Shift Help Her Graduate?

Her parents decided to try homeschooling. They thought maybe the change in education styles would help. That plus math tutoring, and Nimco was ready to take the state math test again. Next thing she knew, she was walking across the stage at her high school graduation in front of her grandmother and entire family. Misson accomplished? Not quite. Deep down Nimco had a bad feeling about her score on the test. On a graduation trip with a friend, she got a call from her mom.

“I knew instantly that she was upset. And I definitely knew why: I’d failed the math test again. By only four points.”

Nimco heard about CareerLink from a friend and some searching by her parents. She entered that building with determination. With mentoring and math tutoring through CareerLink, United Way’s partner in Reconnecting Youth, Nimco completed those math credits and passed the exam. She will be taking classes at University of Washington Bothell to study everything she can. She is looking to major in economics, law or public policy. With her determination when it comes to education, she will thrive in all three.

About Reconnecting Youth: Through this program, United Way aims to link at-risk youth with the mentoring and education coaching they need to get their GED and start on the path to a stable, fulfilling career. There are 14,000 youth ages 16-24 in King County who dropped out and aren’t working. Our future workforce needs our support. More on Reconnecting Youth >>



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