“I never thought I’d graduate high school.”

“I never thought I’d graduate from high school.”

DaSean’s academic journey was anything but traditional.

A student at Manchester Central, he shouldered more responsibility than many teenagers. He watched younger siblings at night. Money for lunch was often short. At times, he scrambled for housing.

When the pandemic started, remote learning was another difficult adjustment. As a senior, DaSean was told he didn’t have the credits he needed to graduate. He’d be held back another year.

Frustrated, dejected, and embarrassed, he decided to drop out altogether.   

Contacted by the school’s guidance counselor, the team at Granite State Independent Living saw potential in the young man with an easy smile.

They reviewed his transcript and decided he was a perfect candidate for their Earn & Learn program.

At first, DaSean was unconvinced. 

He sat at the table and listened to all the ways Earn & Learn could help him—small class sizes, academic support after-hours, functional subjects like independent living skills.

He thought it was too good to be true.

Reluctantly, he agreed to try. 

“But this is my last stop. If it doesn’t work, I’m done.”

Working in a small group of sixteen students, DaSean showed up for classes five days a week. He participated in discussions. He raised his hand and asked questions.

Slowly, like a caterpillar awakening from a cocoon, he began to blossom—both socially and academically.

Four months after he started with Earn & Learn, DaSean graduated.

When he heard his name called, he stood up from his seat. 

He walked to the podium and accepted his diploma. Everyone in the room clapped. 

It’s easy to assume DaSean’s story is about high school credits, smaller class sizes, and a signed certificate.

Yet it is much more.

It is a story about connection, community, and opportunity.

It is a story about how, in the right cocoon with the right people, a young man with an easy smile found his wings. He learned to fly.

The team at Granite State Independent Living believed in me.” 

Congratulations, DaSean. We can’t wait to see what you do next.


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