My Story: Carla Thomas

Carla Thomas dropped out of high school at the age of 16 when she discovered she was pregnant with her first son. She did not have a support system available to get through school, and as years went on, life challenges and road blocks kept getting in her way, preventing her from completing her high school diploma.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Carla was working as a traveling Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). She was on the road a lot and decided she wanted to be back home with her three sons. That’s when she found the Goodwill Memphis Excel Center, where she was able to earn her high school diploma along with a pharmacy technician certification.

Carla had the highest test scores of her fellow December 2022 cohorts. She was accepted into Southwest Community College and is pending acceptance from Union University to further pursue her passion for nursing.

“The Excel Center has helped me improve my life”, said Carla. “I have more than a job. I have a career that allows me to grow both personally and professionally.”

The Excel Center® is Goodwill’s free high school for adults and provides dropouts the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, industry-recognized certifications, and college credits — all at no cost. Through the integration of industry-recognized certification training, like the Certified Pharmacy Technician, CNA Nursing Assistant, Cosmetology, Forklift Operator, to name a few, and dual-credit requirements, The Excel Center positions graduates for careers that offer better-than-average wages.

The Excel Center is currently available in five states. Contact your local Goodwill to find career services available in your area.

When you donate and shop at your local Goodwill, you help individuals like Carla reach their full potential through the power of work. In fact, 87 cents of every dollar you spend in our retail stores and through® and platforms is reinvested in your community to create employment placement, job training and career support services. Find the location closest to you or make a monetary donation to show your support.