21st Century Charter School alumna Quiliana Adderly is a determined young woman who would like to become a social worker and return to her Gary community to help other young women and students like herself. Ms. Adderly began attending 21st Century Charter School in 7th grade because her mother’s concern about the Gary Public Schools, and continued there through 12th grade. While a student, 21st Century Charter School history teacher Mr. Cherry inspired Quiliana to become a social worker through his bright outlook on life in spite of his own life struggles.
Quiliana is choosing to pursue a strong and successful life for herself, and part of her motivation to do this is her son. While a freshmen in high school, Quiliana became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy who is now three years old. Quiliana remembers Mr. Cherry teaching her how hard it is to succeed, and, how important it is to never give up on oneself. Rather than allow becoming a teenaged mother hinder her educational success, Quiliana continued to maintain an honors level GPA, do well in her classes and work hard to achieve her goal of going to college and helping her community.
Ms. Catisha Coates, guidance counselor at 21st Century was a positive influence on Quiliana and mentored Quiliana through the entire college application process including the college search, scholarship/financial aid applications, and SAT/ACT exams all the way through her decision to attend IU-Bloomington. Quiliana proudly states that she had the highest SAT and ACT scores out of her senior class. Ms. Coates also helped Quiliana win the Hudson Hollands Scholarship, and the 21st Century Scholarship which pays for Quiliana’s board and tuition.
Quiliana laughs warmly as she talks about how much of an adjustment it was for to move from Gary to Bloomington. She talks about her initial surprise about how friendly and helpful people were, how safe she felt in Bloomington at night, and her continuing struggles to adjust to collegiate life. As a student and parent, Quiliana knows she struggles more than other students to keep on top of academic work, paying bills, taking care of herself and her son, and having a little bit of social time.
Quiliana is currently taking a full first semester load towards her social work degree but doesn’t have much time to get involved in clubs and activities. However, when Quiliana looks at her son each morning and he is her inspiration to get up and work hard in college, maintain at least a 3.5 GPA and create a strong life that she can be proud of now and in the future. She wants her son to see that she struggled, worked hard when life wasn’t easy, and make a better life for herself and her son.
As a part of her scholarships academic support, Quiliana attended a 6 week summer program at IU-Groups Scholars program, targeted towards first generation and underrepresented students entering the university. She took classes daily, completed her daily homework assignments, lived on campus, made friends, and began the transition to college life. Now in the full swing of her freshmen semester, Quiliana realizes that her reality is tough—she is a single mother as well as a full time college student. But nothing will hold her back.
Quiliana wants to make herself, her son and family, her school, and Mr. Cherry proud, and wants to prove to those who doubted her ability to attend college that she will succeed and achieve her goals. She wants her hard work and perseverance to be an example for her son, sisters, and everyone in Gary.