This month, 26 students will graduate from the Center for Higher Independence (CHI). Graduation is an important milestone in their lives. During their 18 months here, they learned how to budget, prepare for an interview, job search, ride the bus and cook. They volunteered, worked at the Work Training Center and — for 80 percent of the graduates — started a new job in recent weeks or months. After graduation, they will begin their life of independence. Some are a bit anxious and are cherishing their last weeks on campus, while others are just totally excited about the future ahead.
Yeaker Scott, who is deaf, is one of the most excited students to graduate, even though she hasn’t yet found a job.
“I can’t wait to graduate,” Yeaker said. “I don’t have a job so far, but I learned everything I need to get one. I want to get my apartment, earn money and live on my own. I had a great time here but I’m ready to move on.”
And Yeaker has moved on; her positivity and motivation are relatively new to her. Before Providence Place, she lived in Rosedale, Louisiana with family members and worked at McDonalds. She was bored. She worked very hard, but didn’t manage to get a raise or a promotion. She couldn’t picture herself on her own, away from family.
Lucky for her, she and her family decided on Providence Place in the hope she could become more independent, with better opportunities after graduation.
“When Yeaker arrived here, her communication was limited,” said Angela Wilhelm, CHI Generalist and Transitional Housing Coordinator. “She played the tough girl and had a pretty bad attitude.”
Yeaker was born into a family where she was the only one who was deaf. Her mother was the only family member who made an effort to communicate through sign language. Her four brothers and sister did not. So, when her mother died prematurely, she found herself unable to communicate with her family and her situation made for extremely limited communication.
When she came to Providence Place, she met other deaf students and her Case Manager, Ivan, who is also deaf. Right from the start, she was no longer on her own. There were people around her who knew how to sign, and her curiosity grew.
In high school, she didn’t really care about math, but here, her favorite classes were math and accounting. Learning to budget was something she sees as a skill she can use on a daily basis.
“I’m very proud of Yeaker’s progress,” said Angela. “She has learned to follow instructions and she’s more motivated, confident and social. She’ll do amazing things, I’m sure.”
“I really liked being here,” Yeaker said. “I really didn’t want to come at first but once I got here, I was glad. Everyone was very helpful and I met great people here,” she said, blushing.
You see, Yeaker met her boyfriend here, too…