Hard work pays off Adult education program puts woman on path to success

By Julie Gorham / Citrus Chronicle

At 38, Christina DeSensi found herself out of prospects.

She was going through a divorce, her home was in foreclosure, and she was unable to secure a job without a high school diploma. But the eyes of her daughters looking back at her set her on a course of positive change.

Now, at 41, she is one of the 2016/2017 Sunshine Success Stories of Adult and Community Educators of Florida for achieving goals through adult education.

“I have four daughters — they are my life,” DeSensi said. “For 12 years I was a stay-at-home mom and felt so out of touch with the world.”

She took her first step by enrolling in the Withlacoochee Technical College (WTC)

GED preparation class in

April 2014.

“It is hard walking into a class to get your high school diploma when you are old enough to be their parents,” DeSensi said. “My goal was to finish by the time my daughters were finishing school for the year.”

She got her wish when she received the results of her test on that particular day.

“I had passed,” she said. “I immediately called my GED teacher Al Mitchell because I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited I just screamed.”

Then, one year later, she was awarded a three-year scholarship to College of Central Florida (CF), where she is enrolled in the Paralegal Studies program.

“I haven’t stopped. I even took some classes in the summer,” DeSensi said. “I know I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without the help of so many; for one, the day care at WTC is amazing. And there are tons of people who support you when you think no one cares.”

Then one day she went to see Becca York-Alcorn, coordinator for the Trio program at CF, to re-apply for her free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and another prospect came her way.

“Becca told me her assistant had just quit and that I need to put an application in,” she said. “I did, and I’ve been working with the Trio program for two years — and I absolutely love it here.”

She is currently tutoring and mentoring students part time as part of the GED preparation program at WTC. She helps them apply for college, tutors them when they need help and motivates them to achieve their goals.

She was recognized on

April 4 at the Joint Commission on Adult Basic Education/ACE Conference at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando. Al Mitchell nominated her, saying her hard work should be recognized as she has “overcome so many hurdles and is an inspiration to others.”

She is living proof that, for many, the first step down the path to career success and ultimately financial independence is taken in the adult education setting.

“My kids are phenomenal; they are healthy and happy -- that is what matters the most,” DeSensi said. “Me -- everything happens for a reason, and sometimes you don’t know the reasoning, you just have to work hard.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Julie Gorham at 352-563-3236 or jgorham@chronicleonline.com.

http://www.chronicleonline.com/content/hard-work-pays-0

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Photo by Matthew Beck

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