For Jaina, getting her high school diploma was an act of self-love.
“I allowed things to happen to me because I didn’t believe I was good enough, was worthy, or mattered,” Jaina said. “The older I got, the more I started believing in myself, trying to love myself, and telling myself that I mattered. Getting my high school diploma was the biggest thing I did to show myself that I was still important and still mattered. Doing this was my biggest form of self-love.”
Forced out of her parent’s home at 19 years old, Jaina spent five years in survival mode. She worked in customer service, which provided stability, but didn’t allow much flexibility for anything else.
“I was in a really bad mental spot around the time I started my diploma. I’ve always had depression and other things,” Jaina said. “It was literally controlling me, and I just got tired of it having that control and of me being sad. I was like, ‘I have to do something.’”
At 24, Jaina decided it was time to earn her high school diploma. She saw an ad for the Indiana Workforce Diploma Program and decided to reach out for more information.
“When I first started, I was definitely unsure of myself because I hadn’t been in school for a long time, so it was a learning curve for me to get into the mindset of, ‘I have to do school,’” Jaina said. “I really liked how the program separated courses into a little bit at a time, and having an Academic Coach was an amazing support for me. There were still some curveballs here and there, but the teachers were really engaging … They were responsive, and their feedback was good as well.”
In addition to her high school diploma, Jaina earned a Microsoft Office Specialist certificate, which prepared her for her new job as the front desk receptionist of a dental practice.
“Recently, I took a leap of faith and got into a dental career. I’m the front desk receptionist right now, and I love what I do!” Jaina said. “I’ve been able to witness things that I never was able to witness before, and then I found what I wanted to do with my career.”
Jaina had the opportunity to observe her dentist with a patient, which sparked an interest in becoming a dentist. Now, Jaina has a plan mapped out that includes a bachelor’s degree followed by dental school.
“I know it’s a commitment, and it won’t happen overnight,” Jaina said. “I was helping my dentist one day and saw what she was doing, and I thought it was just the most amazing thing in the world. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I would love to do it!’ And then I thought, ‘Well, why can’t I? I have my high school diploma. I can do anything now!”