During my adolescent years, I was forced to make sacrifices to prioritize the attention required to care for my family. I became a mom at a young age and dropped out of high school when I was 18. I had to overcome home insecurities and depression. But I never gave up.

25 years and 12 children later, I finally earned my high school equivalency.

As my kids grew up, I always emphasized the value of education, even though I hadn’t completed my own. As Malcolm X once said, “Education is the passport to the future.”

One day, my son Danel asked, “Why do we have to finish school when you didn’t?” At that moment, I vowed to practice what I preached. With the support of my dear sisters Cheqwita and Elizabeth, I made a commitment to go back to school.

My sisters shared information about different high school equivalency prep classes with me, and I chose the online program offered by Malcolm X College.

It took me three semesters and seven attempts at the HiSET, but again, I never gave up. My instructors, my children, my sisters, and my husband always had my back. When I just wanted to quit, they helped me realize I can do anything.

Once, when I took the test and passed everything except for one subject, I called my instructor Mr. Redmond and told him.

“Meet me on Friday for one-on-one tutoring,” he said.

Mr. Redmond tutored me for three weeks. During the fourth week, I took the test again. This time, I passed.

With my HiSET in hand, I’m ready to move on to college courses. I plan to continue my education at Malcolm X this fall by starting the Basic Nursing Assistant program at the college. My tuition will be fully covered thanks to City Colleges’ Future Ready initiative.

I’m not stopping there either. Eventually, I want to get my bachelor’s degree in nursing and open my own nursing agency. As the mom of 12, I have plenty of experience taking care of people—I just needed to get my start. Malcolm X College helped me realize that starting—regardless of your age or background—is always possible.

—Felecia Tiney, Malcolm X College High School Equivalency Completer, Class of 2022

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