Henry and Founder, Christel DeHaan at graduation
For many impoverished Indianapolis students, graduating from college can seem like an impossible dream.
Not only are Christel House Academy (CHA) kids first generation college students, but they often come from households where their parents did not finish high school. Education and persistence are not core family values.
Years ago, Henry enrolled as an elementary school student at CHA. He came from a family who faced many challenges.
His mother was unwed, under-educated and struggling to make ends meet. As a single mother, she looked at CHA as an opportunity for her children—one she knew they desperately needed.
However, as time passed, things got much more challenging for his family. Struggling to make ends meet, they moved many times. If Henry had attended a public school, this would mean he would transfer schools with each move. But, at CHA, social workers made sure Henry remained in school. As things at home continued to decline, school became a stable and safe place for Henry.
As a junior in high school, his family collapsed. His mother left. But, Henry knew he had to complete high school if he was going to have a decent shot at life. He knew firsthand how difficult life was without an education, without a job, and without hope for the future.
Despite his challenges, Henry remained in school thanks to the support of teachers and social workers. He worked hard, graduated and set his sights on college.
For most schools, this is where the story would end. But, not at Christel House.
Henry transitioned into the CHA College & Careers Program, which continues supporting students after graduation.
This proved to be a lifeline for Henry. Over the summer, as he worked to register for college and complete paperwork to receive financial aid, he hit a wall due to an administrative issue. He worried he’d never begin college.
CHA’s College & Careers counselor helped him ask all the right questions, complete all of the required forms and aggressively advocated for him with college administrators. She made sure this roadblock didn’t derail his future, which is so often the case for students like Henry.
With the problem fixed, Henry was back on track.
Today, Henry is a college graduate with an Associate’s degree in criminal justice. He is working toward becoming a police officer. He wants to help fix the kinds of neighborhoods where he grew up. He wants to help protect children, like him, from the harsh reality of what poverty brings into those neighborhoods.
Your support is helping to change the life stories of students like Henry. Thank you.
Indianapolis Communities Christel House Serves
Henry in 4th Grade at Christel House