Kayla Wright is open about the fact that, growing up, she faced her fair share of adversity. At times, this hardship would manifest as anger issues that would disrupt her schooling and entangle her with the judicial system. For a lot of young people, obstacles such as these can close doors to opportunity and make the future look dim. For Kayla, they were an impetus to change her life through education.

In 2018, Kayla was accepted to the Pace Center for Girls (Broward) which provides free year-round middle school and high school academics, case management, counseling, and life skills development in a trauma-informed and gender-responsive environment. Almost immediately, she knew she found the educational setting that was right for her. “I went through a lot in public school,” said Kayla.

“I lost friends, I experienced major trauma. At Pace they understood me, they took their time with me. Even if I was rebellious or having problems, they really stuck by my side.”

That support was all Kayla needed to finally focus on her future. As graduation inched closer, she knew she wanted to attend college, but worried about returning to an educational environment that wouldn’t acknowledge or accommodate her. That’s when staff from Pace Broward put her in touch with Broward College and the Get REAL program.

The Get REAL program—which provides holistic support to students facing barriers to higher education and covers tuition for up to 24 months—has served as a pipeline for students from Pace Broward to continue their studies at Broward College. Kayla enrolled in the program in 2020. “Pace taught me that there were people out there who cared for me and wanted to see me grow. That changed my life. When I got to Broward College, I found the same kind of environment. It was so friendly, and everyone was so encouraging. They took me in immediately. I can say now, honestly, that I’m proud of myself.”

Currently, Kayla is taking courses in Behavioral Science and Human Services in an effort to earn her associate degree. She is scheduled to graduate in fall 2023. Looking even further into the future, her goal is to earn a master’s degree in social work. She hopes to pursue a career in social services for the juvenile delinquent system, because she believes so firmly in the power of a second chance.

“I have seen the power of one person to change another person’s life,” said Kayla. “I’ve experienced it firsthand. I never thought I’d be able to get into college and graduate. I never thought I’d be able to go as far as I did. I had people at Pace and at Broward College and in my family who didn’t give up on me, and that’s why I’m here today.”

Read more about how Broward College provides wrap-around services and holistic support to students by visiting our Seahawk Outreach Services page. To learn about Broward College’s partnership with the Pace Center for Girls, including a new Emergency Management certificate offered through Broward UP™, click here.

Discover more success stories about Broward College students and faculty members by reading our 2021-22 Annual Report.

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