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Chalkbeat journalists ask the people we come across in our work to tell us about their education stories and how learning shaped who they are today. Learn more about this series, and read other installments, here.

We met Crystal Anderson at the graduation ceremony for the Excel Center’s University Heights Campus. She earned professional certifications in business etiquette, customer service and business leadership through the charter school that gives adults a chance to return for their diplomas. She also earned college credits in English and math. She hopes to get a job working with kids in the juvenile justice system.

I moved to Indianapolis about three years ago and I saw a commercial for the Excel Center. It sounded interesting so I picked up the phone and I called. After 10 years of trying to get a GED, I wanted to shoot for a diploma.

I went to Wayne High School in Fort Wayne. I had children early. I was more involved with the streets than with education. I have four children ages 14, 7, 11 and 4. They are all boys. I’m 31 years old.

This was more hands on. It worked for me. It was more personal.

I am pursuing a criminal justice career now. I am already a full-time summer student at Ivy Tech Community College right now. I have learned good skills for being prepared and being on time and being a successful college student.

I am working toward being a counselor in the juvenile justice system. There are things to work out still. I’ve got four years to go, but I can do it.

It feels very overwhelming to graduate. It doesn’t feel real yet. A lot of people said I’d never see this day. It’s very emotional for me. I feel a lot of love. I’m going to miss a lot of people. I came a far way. This experience shows me I can do anything if I put my mind to it.