Brenda Leake is a recipient of the 2017 Education Achievement Award by Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana (Michigan Street Excel Center).
The typical student at The Excel Center® – Goodwill’s high school for adult learners – is between 18-24 years old, but returning to school at the age of 47 isn’t the only characteristic that separates Brenda Leake from most of her classmates.
Born with cerebral palsy, Brenda was told she would never be able to drive, have children or graduate from high school. Despite these predictions, she’s been driving for 25 years and has two sons, ages 20 and 17. “I have used the negative remarks as motivation to reach my goals,” said Brenda. “I want to inspire others by showing them that they can do anything they put their minds to.” When she enrolled at The Excel Center three years ago, she was determined to overcome this obstacle. “Brenda is not a big fan of algebra, but she worked tirelessly to improve her understanding and mastery of the subject,” said Ryan Deignan, Graduation Coach at The Excel Center. “I am so thankful that our paths crossed. She inspires me more than she knows.”
As a result of her hard work and persistence, Brenda received her high school diploma in January 2017. She has also been employed at the Goodwill store in Avon for three years, first preparing clothing for the sales floor and now as a productive member of the e-commerce team, selecting items for sale online. In her capacities as a student and an employee, Brenda always strives for excellence
Brenda was connected with a dedicated adviser who assisted her in setting goals for the future. Goodwill Guides provide information and resources to retail employees, informing them of services available and helping broaden their skill sets. They help employees pursue higher wage positions — both inside and outside of Goodwill. Brenda now plans to earn an industry-recognized Pharmacy Technician Certification through The Excel Center to expand her career prospects. “I want to be a model to my young men and show them that sacrifices and hard work pay off,” said Brenda.
NOTE: As originally posted on Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana.