Not everyone is competing on the same playing field of life. There are resources to help young Floridians with specific challenges.
If you face a health crisis or unplanned pregnancy ... If you dropped out of school and are not working ... If you're homeless or have a criminal record ... it may be more challenging for you to complete your education and training or to make it on your own financially.
Don't let challenges limit your potential. Understand that each challenge you overcome is one step closer to beating the statistics. Read on to learn how other young Floridians have overcome obstacles to complete their education/training and achieve independence.
Having a disability doesn't mean disabled
At 24 years old, Nate Quillen was at the top of his game. He was a pro golfer with nothing standing in his way until a vehicle crash left him with a major spinal cord injury and a doctor's prediction that he'd never walk again. Even with successful treatments and therapy, it was clear to Nate that his years of golfing professionally were over. He turned to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) for help. "I enrolled at the University of West Florida … VR provided my tuition and books and gave me a gasoline allowance."
After graduation, Nate's next challenge came when he didn't get accepted to med school. He turned back to VR, and with their support, he applied and was accepted to Marshall University in West Virginia as one of 12 students in the master's program for forensic sciences. In 2010, Nate completed his degree and began working as a toxicology analyst for Premier Tox in Kentucky. Despite dealing with a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatments later in 2010, Nate excelled in his position and was promoted to a team leader role in 2013.
Nate attributes his career success to VR's continued support. "I don't know where I'd be without that program. I had a void, and I'm fortunate VR helped me fill it."
Two babies and two degrees. It can be done.
In 2010, Hannah Deese was a high school senior when she discovered she was pregnant. Her dream of having a traditional college experience was shattered, and Hannah struggled with disappointing her family. But she didn't allow herself to dwell on the negatives — Hannah is an overcomer.
With her Bright Futures eligibility, academic scholarships and a part-time job, Hannah was able to pay for college. During her junior year, she had a second child, but she's still on schedule to earn her degree in May 2014 from the College of Central Florida.
"I know I am extremely blessed to have supportive parents, and not everyone can say that," says Hannah, "but the bottom line is this: You have to be determined to get through it, not only for yourself but for your child as well. If you don't have a family network, look to a church or civic group for help. Don't be ashamed or afraid to ask ... just be willing to help someone else in return one day."