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January 23, 2020

Samantha’s Story: Giving Me a Second Chance

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Every day at the D2 Center, we assist students who are working hard to re-engage in school and get back on track toward graduation and a positive future. Who are these students? What barriers are they facing, and overcoming? Over the next few months on the blog, we’ll be sharing student stories so our readers can get to know our students as we do: as unique young individuals prevailing over obstacles to pursue their high school diplomas — and beyond. Here is Samantha’s story.

Samantha’s Story: Giving Me a Second Chance

Samantha was starting to believe that a high school diploma wasn’t in the cards for her. After dropping out of school both her junior and senior years, she tried to work on a GED but found it was difficult and she lacked the motivation to complete it.

Then her sister, Sara, also started to struggle in school. Sara’s school counselor recommended the D2 Center and so she and her mother visited for intake. It was during that visit that their mother met Youth Academic Navigator (YAN) Evelia Gutiérrez. This ended up being a game changer for Samantha.

That evening during dinner with her parents, siblings, grandma and husband, Samantha heard the great news that her mother had learned from Evelia: she only needed 11 credits to graduate. According to Samantha, the news was “Just crazy. It was mind-blowing… that I had 38 credits already and only needed 11 to accomplish my high school diploma.” Samantha texted Evelia the next day.

Samantha applied to the D2 Center and Evelia became her YAN and assisted her with reenrolling in school. While she waited for the OPS Accelere Program to start, an eager Samantha took an elective class at the D2 Center for one credit. Through perfect attendance and hard work, she earned an “A” in the class. An assignment during the class, “A Letter to Forever”, required Samantha to look forward by looking back. She was to write to her future self to recognize the people and things she was grateful for and had helped her achieve success.

“Future Samantha,
● Put yourself first
● Save ways to care for yourself
● Forgive your abusive father
● Prepare to leave your family and school
● Be thankful for getting a second chance.”

Samantha continued; I am “thankful for Evelia. Strong believer in everything happens for a reason… for myself and my parents who I’ve let down a lot of times and am ready to be someone successful in life. There are no words to express how thankful I am with God for giving me a second chance and sending the Angel Evelia in my path. Having an extra support system means a lot to me. I want to make everyone proud.”

Samantha shared her finished assignment with Evelia. After reading it, Evelia said, “When I received the letter from her thanking me and telling me I was her angel, I told her I was meant to be on her path. Then she thanked me for not judging her.”

Samantha is still enrolled and making progress in school. Her story continues….

 – Samantha’s name has been changed to protect her privacy. –

Posted in: General, Student Stories

About Carolyn

Carolyn Miller is one of the directors of the D2 Center. She is a graduate of Omaha Northwest High School and the University of Iowa. Carolyn has been with the D2 Center since 2010.

View all posts by Carolyn