OLATHE, Kan. — An Olathe mother of four is taking the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and turning them around to achieve a life-long goal.
Kelly Morse, 36, is about one week away from earning her high school diploma. She left school when she was pregnant with her son, Jordan.
"I just really, honestly never thought this day would come as I just kept creeping closer to 40," Morse said.
She lost her job at a restaurant at the beginning of the pandemic and decided to go back to school.
She discovered the Central Plains Diploma Completion Program. The program launched in Kansas in June 2020 and is free to the 10% of adults who do not have a high school degree.
The program launched in partnership with online education company Graduation Alliance.
Greg Harp, Graduation Alliance chief development officer, said the company is seeing an increase in people wanting to finish their high school education during the pandemic. Since launching, 500 people have been accepted into the program. At least 85 have received their diplomas.
"The average person who has a high school diploma versus those who don’t makes $270,000 over their lifetime more," Harp said, "and that obviously also allows you to get into college, which increases your earning potential even more."
With attention deficit disorder and dyslexia, Morse said learning can be a challenge. But the program's supportive teachers make it enjoyable.
"I was clueless about algebra when I started, and now it’s kind of exciting seeing some of the problems because it’s like I know that, so it’s really fun," Morse said.
Morse will graduate earlier than originally thought. The program is designed so that dedicated students can complete courses quicker than they are scheduled.
Now, she's about one week away from completing her degree. To make the moment even more special, she gets to share it with her son Jordan, now a high school senior.
"It’s just really kind of cool that I ended with him when I had him, and now we’re going to end and graduate together," Morse said.
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