Career Online Education Program 2021 Graduate: Felicia Stewart-Taylor
by Khadijah Torbert
October 29, 2021
Tuscaloosa, Ala., (West AlabamaWorks!)- A Wife. Mother. Friend. Event Planner, and 22 years in the Mental Health field, Felicia Stewart-Taylor now can check high school graduate off the list, after 20 years.
It wasn’t easy, but Felicia recently received her high school diploma from Smart Horizon Career Online Education within 8 months of starting the online program.
“Well it meant everything to me. I felt like my personal self didn’t match my business side. So to accomplish something I thought I'd never get, meant everything to me," said Felicia.
Although her diploma was awarded to her in the summer of 2021, her close friends, family, and members of West AlabamaWorks! surprised her with her very own graduation ceremony which was an emotional one for Felicia.
Felicia said, “I would have never thought they could pull something like that off for me. It was great and it was overwhelming to see all the love in the room and that they thought so much of me to come out and celebrate this with me. They got me. That’s all I can say.”
In 1993, Felicia was on track to graduate from Central high school, 6 credits away when something..or should I saw someone, changed her life forever.
“ Well, I had a child early, a “TotalCare” child, Brittney, while I was still in high school. It was hard trying to get to school and trying to find care for her because not everyone was equipped to handle a child like mine," said Felicia. "So it was just hard trying to continue school, stay encouraged, and get care for my daughter. Getting different people to help and being a senior was challenging. I made it all the way to 12th grade but it was just too hard for me to finish. I had a lot of encouragement, but I felt like my daughter was more important at the time. I thought I'd never finish so I ended up trying to obtain my GED, but come to find out when I wanted to start Shelton the GED I thought I obtained wasn’t accredited. So this program came about at such a perfect time. So in a nutshell this program was just awesome.”
And even with it being awesome, she says the Smart Horizon Career Online Education Program was the real deal, just like being in high school.
“This program was real. When I was in school, I went back to school. It was the hardest 8-months I had to go through with studying, writing, reading, and being quizzed, and tested on different subjects weekly. I don't know who said that online school is not real, it is very real and you must be disciplined to complete it. Just to stay focused and dedicated, it was something," said Felicia.
Throughout the 8-months she relied heavily on not only her faith, but her husband and her career coach.
“He was phenomenal through the whole 8 months, I asked him to do something that was oh my God selfless. You know, he really took care of my girls. While I studied he was there. I didn't have to worry about the care of my children while I was in school," said Felicia. I had a designated time and a designated place in my bedroom to where he said ‘just go to school’. That made me feel good that he was my support. Anytime I had a question, I could always call my [career] coach Linda Freeman, she was awesome. [We] did a lot of texting and emailing, but she was sending me something everyday just to encourage me. So it was wonderful just to have that support.
Felicia had this to say when asked what advice she would give anyone who has reservations or hesitancy about being older and getting their diploma through the partnership between West AlabamaWorks! and Smart Horizon Career Online Education.
“Do it, it’s the best thing. It’s a feeling of relief for me and it’s something I thought I would never have and through this program I was able to obtain it. So, it’s a dream come true, a total dream come true. Yes I'm 46, but I did it!"
After receiving an accredited high school diploma and a career certificate that shows employers she has proven skills and knowledge in the field, Felicia answers the question that all graduates receive: “what’s next?”
“Well this will allow me to go to college, and that’s my goal. It’s allowing me to further my education and it will only help me business wise later. It has given me a new ‘go get it’ attitude", said Felicia.
For more information on the Career Online Education Program, visit https://westalabamaworks.com/cohs to register or contact West AlabamaWorks! at (205)735-9675.