While most 65-year-olds are planning for retirement, Imperial Pathways Charter School recent graduate Estella Olivares is only thinking about ways she can further her education. At age 65, Ms. Olivares has made it a goal to obtain her high school diploma, become a Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor, and complete a program for a barber’s license.
Although Ms. Estella had an Alcohol and Drug Studies Certificate, an A.S. degree in Alcohol and Drug Studies, and had graduated with honors from Imperial Valley College, she was constantly turned down when applying for jobs because she didn’t have a high school diploma. “It’s never too late,” she told herself and made it her primary goal to obtain this diploma. Two years later, after facing many obstacles she is able to proudly say she is a high school graduate and is ready for the workforce.
“My path wasn’t easy, but I want to let everyone know that it is never too late. I faced many obstacles, family losses, and even cancer, but I had my eye on the prize and I was able to do it!” Ms. Estella expressed.
Ms. Estella started at step one, from learning how to turn on a computer to owning her own laptop. She needed to complete a significant number of credits in order to obtain her diploma, but she was dedicated and determined throughout the process. When asked to be there, she was there. When asked to get an assignment done, she got it done. Ms. Estella was completing her classes twice as fast as the average student at Imperial Pathways Charter School.
“Ms. Estella has been our oldest graduate thus far. People her age are often thinking about retirement, but I don’t think this woman is ever going to retire. She just keeps going for more!” said Mrs. Benito, Imperial Pathways Teacher. “One of her biggest obstacles was our math class, however, with the help of an AmeriCorps tutor and daily Zoom tutoring sessions, she was able to get through the class. I would even see her online at 5 a.m. working on her assignments from home. Estella is just an amazing woman and a sweetheart; I would take 10 more Estellas in my classroom if I could.”
“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without my family, my loving grandchildren who I want to be an inspiration for, and my wonderful teacher Mrs. Benito,” Ms. Estella expressed.
Estella is ready to proudly present her high school diploma next time she applies for a job; she plans to display it on the wall of her home next to her other certificates and hopefully soon at her workplace. “I will never forget the emotions and butterflies in my stomach when I received my diploma at our drive-thru graduation. I am proud of myself because I have worked so hard. To the young people out there, remember it is never too late to achieve your most desired goals,” said Ms. Estella.
In her spare time, Ms. Estella enjoys volunteering in the community, caring for her grandchildren, and thinking of ways she can help others.