During a recent evening newscast on the ABC-TV station covering Sarasota and Manatee counties, newly minted graduate Paloma Perez said she had found hope and a path to college at Sarasota Acceleration Academies. Watch the interview here.
“Paloma Perez’s mother became the first in her family to earn an American high school diploma. Paloma, however, became a dropout,” said Renee Gilmore, host of the Empowering Voices program on ABC 7, WWSB. “But that’s not the end of Paloma’s story. She represents the best of the American spirit.”
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Paloma said that she had dropped out of high school after losing her father and grandfather in a short period of time and falling far behind in her studies. But then she found SAA, which works in partnership with Sarasota County Schools to provide another path to a diploma for students who have not found success in traditional classrooms.
“I just felt like all hope was lost,” Paloma said during the interview aired on the evening news. “But I realized one day that there’s hope out there. I had to be a proper person of society and get something good done with my life — and Acceleration Academy really helped me to achieve that.”
Paloma said she had benefited from the one-on-one coaching, transportation assistance and personalized approach of Acceleration Academies. She’s been accepted at Santa Fe College in Gainesville and plans to study criminal forensics.
“The staff here at Sarasota Acceleration Academy helped me a lot,” she said in an interview taped at the academy site. “You always have a lot of one-on-one support here … I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Paloma said that she hoped other young people who are struggling watch the interview and realize there are educators standing by to help them realize their potential.
“Wow, I did it. I came so far,” she said. “I hope there are students out there that are feeling helpless … if you ever fall along the way, get back up, you can do this.”