Saturday, March 26, 2022

A Picture of Redemption

 I recently read there are moments/days in life which propel one miles ahead on the journey from childhood to adulthood.*   A few of those moments may have just sprung into your mind. In addition to the ones most of us share, first day of school, getting a driver's permit/license, taking the SAT, high school graduation, wedding, birth of a child, etc, we all have "propelling moments" unique to us. Entering boarding school, flying to the states while my parents stayed in the Philippines, the day I forgave my abuser were all moments which moved me by leaps and bounds on my journey of personal get the idea. I love this thought as it is one factor which explains why some 15 year olds seem more mature than some 22 year olds.  They've had more propelling moments, they are simply further on the journey. Most parents agree whole years can disappear in the blink of an eye as those moments hit one after another in their child's life.  One's 18th/19th year are often full of these moments...high school graduation, leaving home, etc. This year is one where the big, propelling moments line up and crash in wave after wave.  Hang with me, I'm going somewhere with this...I've been told I have to give a bit of backstory in order for you to understand and join us in the depth of our celebration. 

February 2021, shortly after Allie moved in, she came up and set on the hearth in front of the woodstove.  This had already become a signal to us all Allie had something she needed to talk about. Sure enough, she looked up at me and said, "I'm screwed. I'll never be a functioning member of society." 

I sensed this was an important moment; I now know it was a propelling moment. I wasn't entirely sure where the discussion was heading. Lots of ground could be covered with an opening statement like that. This was the moment Allie realized she was on a path which would not lead to the destination she desired.  Yes, she was in this place because of choices that were not solely hers.  However, this IS where she was and this is the moment Allie quit making excuses for the place where she found herself and took responsibility for moving to where she wanted to go. She shared she was behind in school. I relaxed. This happens. I knew what to do. First step, we needed a clear picture of where she was. Second step, we would figure out where she wanted to be and chart a course to get there. Third step, we would both have to commit to the plan to get to said destination.  I shared my brilliant wisdom. She shared I didn't understand how far behind she was. She was SCREWED, I tell you, SCREWED! We defined what she meant by "functioning member of society."  I explained college wasn't a necessity, but the things on her heart to do DID REQUIRE degrees. 

I told her the first step was still for us to get a clear picture. We called her contact teacher, and Allie requested a transcript and a current Individual Learning Plan (ILP). Things were confusing as Allie was not actually doing the classes on her ILP.  The books which she had brought did not match the classes for which she was supposed to be providing work samples. The contact teacher and Allie didn't really have an answer for this. I met with Allie's mom. Over tea, we went over the ILP, the transcript, and the discrepancies. I came away with a list of courses on the transcript which Allie hadn't finished, several she hadn't started. I was told there were no other books at home for the current classes. I asked her mom to please let the contact teacher know she could speak to me about Allie's education. She was voicing she wasn't sure she wanted to go to college, but she wanted to be ABLE to go to college.  In more conversations with the contact teacher, we set Allie up for an online, state-run program which allows for accelerated recapturing of credits for at-risk kids. All this work is monitored and graded online - I did NOT give Allie a single "mommy grade." Allie was doing 7th grade math when she moved into our home, but she was a Junior. I knew this would provide the biggest challenge in being college-ready in 1 1/2 years.  I told the contact teacher I was going to give Allie an assessment and see if she could start Pre-Algebra. Our goal would be for her to at least get Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 on her transcript before she graduated.  She told me Allie wouldn't qualify for the Alaska Performing Scholarship, and I told her our goal was to build as strong a transcript going forward as possible - one that would couple with SAT scores to get colleges to look at her.  We registered Allie in several courses through the online program: Physical Science, Biology, Pre Algebra and Algebra 1.  We made a plan for Allie to finish all the courses which were listed on her transcript, and I had curriculum for the classes that were on her current ILP - she'd need to finish them, as well - all by the end of summer. Isn't that like God that I would have complete American History and Forensic Science on my shelf as Stacia and the boys had used the books in recent years? Her senior year would focus on areas of interest, filling a few more gaps, college/career prep, and a getting a strong Literature credit. 

We had a plan. Allie committed to work HARD and to work LONG hours. She finished her job and put all of her focus on school. She worked all semester, all summer and by the time her Senior year began, she had done all the work her transcript listed. She was interested in Psychology, and we found an AP Psychology course for her to take. She had 1/2 a credit in ASL - we wanted her to have at least 2. God led us to a program that is amazing, and the founders are now huge advocates for Allie's future career.  Allie took a very SOLID Senior year - none of this cruising to the end. She kept the goal in sight. 

Yes, this discussion was a propelling moment. "Alright, you're screwed. What will you do about it?"  Its ironic this conversation became the basis of a life lesson essay Allie submitted on her college application. She learned to take responsibility for where you are, chase after your happy ending, be willing to put in the hard work, and you'll find others willing to support you as you do. Allie now says what she appreciated most is I didn't sugar coat where she was. If she wanted to get to college, she'd need to make some changes. 

Another propelling moment happened around our dinner table. We often discuss what the guys are doing at work, what random memory GG is focused on, and what the girls are doing in school.  The discussion was swirling and Allie randomly looked up and said, "Hey, I can do ANYTHING I want to do, can't I?" 

"Why, yes, m'dear 'tis true."  (OK maybe we were more like YES!!!! accompanied with high fives and claps!)

She went on, "I mean, I CAN actually be whatever I want!" 

This was another huge moment!!!! Allie had a vision. The realization there is no reason she couldn't reach her dreams.  She had realized, as we suspected she would, the field of psychology is not one she wants to pursue as a funding source.  She is drawn to being an ASL interpreter, and this is a new and blossoming career field. She can interpret in schools; she can be a medical interpreter, she can interpret for politicians. There were lots of settings and lots of opportunities. Her tutor has interpreted for President Bush and Toby Mac as well as school districts, etc.  We see this fitting Allie's personality and gifts more readily than 40 hours of counseling week after week. 

Allie finished all 3 levels of ASL and moved on to one-on-one tutoring to prepare for the Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI). She is currently working through this course with her mentor/tutor. She submitted the video we posted last week to a contest. She's applying for an ASL scholarship.  Meanwhile, I researched ASL programs. There are none in the state of Alaska. As we all discussed options, Allie voiced she would like to take as many online credits, as possible. She didn't feel ready to move out of state at this point. There are a variety of reasons this is a good plan.  As I researched, I signed Allie up at the schools which looked good and she began to get calls and emails from various universities. All the programs were in-residence - from Washington state to Virginia, and then, I found a plan offered in-residence OR as a hybrid course. The degree was accepted for licensing in the state of Alaska. It seemed to be a well-recognized program.  Allie's tutor sent her a list of five programs she recommends, and the number one pick was the one Allie had begun thinking would be the best fit for her. these past 13 months...we've run! We've pressed hard, and then came the SAT, college entrance applications and college scholarship applications. Would it be enough? 

We began the process of applying to the University of Northern Colorado. They required FOUR HIGH LEVEL MATH COURSES - Algebra 1 and beyond. Um...remember the back story and math?  Allie told me she was "grossly under qualified" for UNCO (note the upgrade from SCREWED - vocab is amazing). She wasn't wrong. We suggested she apply for her number one pick and see how God may work. We also discussed how it would be feasible for her to take a year at the local community college, focus on math and then apply again as a transfer student for the next fall. Allie applied. 

We waited. 

We discovered on Friday they had never received her transcript. 

We had the school district email another. 

Allie checked her email in the afternoon and then went about her Friday afternoon/evening routine.

Saturday morning came, and I heard running and Allie calling, "Madre! Madre!"

What in the world!!!

"Madre, I got an email from UNCO saying they made a decision on my application!"

Wow - they were just waiting for that transcript, evidently. 

We read the email - no photos from that moment as we were IN THE MOMENT. Allie has been ACCEPTED into UNCO for the fall 2022 school year.  She was also awarded a scholarship of $16,000 to be used over her four years at the University. 

We laughed, yelled, cried, hugged, danced....and woke up GG and Michael.  GG said, "What is all that hollering about?" We shared the news with Allie's parents, the Gherkins, those who have been praying her through the process and other friends and family. None of us have stopped smiling yet. 

We paid the required fees...and she is officially a UNCO Bear. 

Stacia made a dessert Allie loves - Irish Sticky Toffee Pudding - for our evening celebration. We put four candles in Allie's piece - one for each year she will be at the University.  In this photo, she is laughing at our attempt to find an appropriate "I'm going to college song."  She actually laughed so hard, she blew out the candles, and we had to relight them. 

No celebration is complete without a gift. I framed the acceptance letter and told Allie it is a tangible picture of redemption in her life. 

We told her it was the first award to hang on her "praise me" wall in her future office. 

We thought Allie still needed to apply to the ASLEI Program but as Michael read the letter it SAYS she has been accepted into the "American Sign Language English Interpretation program in the College of Education and Behavior Science at UNCO."  It sure sounds like she has been accepted into the program, though she hasn't applied to the program yet. 

Allie wants everyone to know when this story is shared, she is grossly under qualified and this is solely by the grace and favor of God. 

Well done, Allie; well done! We are all so very proud of you and so very humbled by the favor of God on your journey! 

*I like this thought for a variety of journeys... i.e. faith journey. I am not sure who to attribute it to. I suspect Karen Kingsbury as I discovered the Baxter series while isolated at home this time around. 


Shelley Lee in MA said...

Congratulations!!! : ) I love the framed acceptance for her wall. : )

Gilda said...

Congratulations! What a beautiful story of God's faithfulness in His plan for Allie. Well done Allie!

Unknown said...

God is so good!! Congrats Allie and family.