After fleeing Liberia with her family, Love was resettled in the United States at age 15 and she thought to herself, “My life is gonna change here.” Before their resettlement, Love had been forced to leave school due to the high fees, so she was eager to start her education fresh in her new home. However in her American middle school, she faced some unexpected challenges. Some students made fun of her accent and bullied her, and she felt embarrassed when she was made to read in front of the class. School became a place of frustration and Love got into some fights.
In high school her experience began to improve; she connected with a guidance counselor who encouraged her and created a safe space to talk and process challenges. However, during this time, Love’s family moved, she switched schools and new challenges arose. Love began working night shifts in a poultry processing plant to help support her family. She fell asleep in class during the day and struggled to keep up with her school work. For Love’s senior year, just before her 21st birthday, a guidance counselor encouraged her to leave school and attend a non-traditional school because of her age.
Like many refugee students, Love’s interrupted education prior to arriving to the U.S. made it difficult to graduate high school before aging out of the system, and the need to support herself and her family made it difficult to prioritize school work. She left high school but was unable to enroll in the non-traditional school due to transportation challenges. Love came to the IRC in Atlanta in the spring of 2017 seeking support and guidance. She enrolled in the IRC’s Connect to Success (C2S) program and set goals of earning a high school diploma and a vocational certification.
Love worked with the C2S team to enroll in Job Corps – a free residential education and job training program for young adults aged 16 to 24. While at the Job Corps center, Love ignored distractions from peers and focused intensely. She alternated taking high school classes online with participating in medical training. After just five months at the Job Corps center, she completed the program, earning her high school diploma, a Medical Assistant certification and a phlebotomy certification.
Love is currently working with C2S to find a Medical Assistant internship that will lead to a job, and to explore options for continuing her education. She hopes to earn an Associate’s Degree in nursing, become a Licensed Professional Nurse, and eventually complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Love’s father passed away in Liberia and she has witnessed her mother’s struggle and sacrifice to bring her family to safety and support them in their new home. She feels grateful that she can now help her family in a robust way and looks forward to a career in the medical field because it will allow her to connect with and support others. Once Love has established a career, she hopes to donate money to schools in Liberia so that future generations in her home country can have the education that she missed out on as a child.
To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at Kalie.Lasiter [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8941.