Perspective frames everything we do " the challenges we face, the obstacles we overcome, and the goals we accomplish. Yet it's not until we go outside of our own frame and look into the lives of others that we are truly able to grasp where we stand.

Penn Foster co-hosted a panel discussion with Dorsey Schools at last week's ACICS Annual Conference in New Orleans. The panelists from Dorsey were Denise Fox Pratt (VP of Institutional Effectiveness at Dorsey Schools), Gerrit Ketelhut (Penn Foster program facilitator), and Nikkiya Gentry (Penn Foster high school graduate and current Dorsey culinary arts student). While all the panelists did a fantastic job providing their unique viewpoints on how Penn Foster's High School Completion program works at Dorsey Schools, Nikkiya stole the show.

Born in Detroit, MI, Nikkiya was homeless by age 11 and, facing the everyday challenges of living on the streets, had dropped out of school by age 12. Eventually, she was able to locate a cousin to live with and help get her life back on track, only to be diagnosed with aplastic anemia and given 6 months to live. Despite the grim prognosis, Nikkiya was determined to earn her high school diploma and pursue her passion of cooking. She attempted to enroll in Dorsey Schools, only to be told she needed a high school diploma to attend the career college. After looking into the GED and other adult high school options, Nikkiya learned that Dorsey Schools was now offering the Penn Foster program " a new blended, self-paced high school completion program that helped prospective students earn their high school diploma. Ecstatic, she enrolled in the program and was the first student to earn her high school diploma and matriculate into Dorsey. She is now healthy, weeks away from earning her certificate from Dorsey, and has secured an externship working at a Marriott.

What's most impressive about Nikkiya is her attitude and humility. She is grateful to all of those that have helped her get where she is today. As someone who's faced tremendous hardships and conquered insurmountable odds to get where she is, she tells her story like it's nothing special. "I'm so honored to be here" Nikkiya said at dinner the night before the panel, "thank you all so much for everything."

Nikkiya you have it backwards. We are the ones who are honored " honored to have had the opportunity to play even a small role in your success.

Hear Nikkiya and her classmates share their stories.

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