Ashley LeBouef embodies the motto “Never Give Up.” In the mid 2000s, two of her close friends dropped out of high school while Ashley remained in school. After enduring an incident of bullying, High school became a place she no longer enjoyed. As someone who didn’t like to fight, Ashley felt it best that she drop out of high school as well.
A few years passed by and Ashley now had three young children. In 2014, Ashley found out that there were Adult Education Programs that could assist people in getting their GED (now HiSET). Going back to school had always been on her mind, but she was concerned about the timing in her life due to having to take care of her young kids. Ashley didn’t trust anyone but her family to take care of her kids. Due to limited resources in regards to childcare, she decided to hold off on furthering her education until it was more convenient for her. A few more years passed by and Ashley had to deal with many difficulties in her life. While her struggles put her in a rough place mentally and emotionally, she never gave up on improving her life or the lives of those around her. In 2017, she wanted to help a friend who also had children and whose husband was out of town working. Ashley moved in with her friend, and began searching for a job. She wasn’t having luck finding employment, so she started to seriously reconsider going back to school to get her HiSET.
In 2019, Ashley discovered that there was a HiSET class offered at the Goodwill store in Opelousas. She decided to give them a call and was greeted by the friendly voice of one of our Mission Services staff members. Ashley was able to start classes the following Monday after making that phone call. She went into the class and took the TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education), an assessment that determines a student’s familiarity with the material on the HiSET. Ashley began working on the subjects and materials that were giving her problems. About a week after starting Goodwill’s adult education classes, Ashley’s mom Pollyanna decided to start attending the classes as well. With her mom by her side, Ashley was more encouraged and motivated to succeed.
After a few months of class work and HiSET practice tests, Ashley was cleared to begin the testing process. Her first test was Reading, but being in a different room with an instructor she didn’t know and the pressure of a timed test created anxiety for Ashley. An eight is a passing score, but Ashley recieved a six in her first attempt. She went on to take the science portion next and was more comfortable with the exam process. Ashley passed Science, Math, Writing, and Social Studies, so the only thing that stood in her way was to retake Reading.
Each test taker gets three chances per calendar year to pass a particular section of the HiSET. Since she had already taken it once and failed, Ashley had two more chances to pass before she would be required to wait until the following year. In her second attempt she scored a six again, but instead of getting discouraged, she hit the books. “I was told to [never give up,] which I never did, said Ashley.” After some time, Ashley attempted the test again, and while she increased her score to seven, it unfortunately still wasn’t enough to pass. The new calendar year started and Ashley received three additional attempts for the Reading portion. After scoring another seven, Ashley worked with our HiSET instructor on the specific area of the test that was giving her trouble. During this time, Ashley’s mom began the HiSET testing as well which gave Ashley more incentive to stick with it. Her mom was in the same room as her the moment that Ashley finally saw that much desired number 8 pop up on the screen. As she saw her passing score, it took her breath away, and she almost cried. Ashley turned to her mom who was sitting two rows behind her and gave her a big thumbs up. After walking out of the room, her mom exclaimed “I knew you could do it!”
Ashley persisted when things didn’t quite turn out how she expected. In May 2020, she was able to take part in a virtual HiSET celebration. “If you have the opportunity to go back to school,” states Ashley, “please do it because it could change your life around.”