Courtney McCowan did not expect to drop out of high school only three months away from graduation. However, when she became pregnant with her first child, her health became her top priority.

“I struggled balancing school and health,” Courtney said. “As a teenager about to become a mom, I had no choice but to put my health first.”

 

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Courtney gave birth to a healthy boy and eventually had three more children. She also went through a difficult divorce. A single mom of four, she did her best to manage a busy schedule.

“I was waitressing and working other part-time jobs,” Courtney said. “But I really needed something more to support my family.”

She attempted to take online classes and earn her high school diploma, but she found out later the school was not accredited. One day, she drove past The Excel Center® building on her way to work, and it piqued her curiosity.

“It looked like a school, so I researched it online when I got home,” Courtney said. “I am so happy I did.”

 

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Courtney, 33, enrolled at The Excel Center in Anderson in January 2015. She enjoyed the flexible scheduling and the support received from instructors.

“What really made the difference was the teachers,” Courtney said. “They work one-on-one with you to make sure you succeed.”

While attending school at The Excel Center, she continued to work part-time as a waitress and realized she enjoys helping others. Her life coach suggested she earn her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification. The Excel Center offers students the opportunity to earn college credit and industry-recognized certifications at no cost.

“My coach told me that I would make a good CNA,” Courtney said. “He said I have what it takes, so I decided to go for it.”

 

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Courtney graduated from The Excel Center in June 2017 with her Certified Nursing Assistant certification. She spoke at her school’s graduation ceremony and got married one month later. Instead of working part-time jobs, she is now employed full-time as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

“Now, I love my job,” Courtney said. “The skills I learned at The Excel Center help me every day in my new career.”