Graduation is a big deal at the South Bend Excel CenterThe Excel Center is a tuition free high school for adults. You may have heard some of our stories. The unique mission of the Excel Center is the driving force behind student’s success. The Excel Center meets students where they are in life. That’s why we want you to know Justin’s graduation story.

When you commit to coming here,

we commit to getting you there.

Following is the story of one of our students, Justin. Below is the speech he delivered at graduation. His words tell a story you need to hear.

When I first came to the Excel Center I was just trying to kill some time.  

Some students come into the Excel Center all motivated to come get their diplomas, but that wasn’t me. I was just coming here ‘cause I had nothing else better to do.

You see, I had an injury that caused me to lose my job, affected what I was able to do and not do, and changed my life in a way that I was not expecting.

While I was injured, someone I know advised me to just go back to high school and wait for my injuries to heal. And that is what I decided to do – I came to the Excel Center.

Once I came here, I really started to enjoy the learning environment.  The atmosphere and people were so friendly, and they had great attitudes.

After a while, I began to discover that their attitude started to change my attitude.

I started getting good grades which made me feel motivated to get more.

Doing good in school really raised my confidence to a level it was not before. Gradually my love of education seemed to creep back into my life.  This was something that regular high school could not seem to do.

All the teachers and staff have been so awesome. They have been more than helpful.

I am thankful I got to meet so many great staff and students, they are the type of people you don’t get to meet often in life.

Here I stand, months later, with a solid 3.5 GPA, and with aspirations and a direction that I would not have thought possible a short while ago.

If you would have told me 6 months ago that I would be sitting after school in Jeff’s class writing a graduation speech, with a SAT study guide in front of me, and thinking about plans to go to college and start a real career, I would have said, “You’re crazy.”

However, here I am, with a variety of paths open to me that didn’t exist before I started here.  I’m not sure where life will take me, but it is a much brighter future having gone to the Excel Center.

What started out as a place to kill some time ended up being a transformative experience for me, as I think it has been for all the students you see here before you.

A transformative experience.

This is what Goodwill does.  Through your generous donations to stores, and the dollars you spend shopping, we are able to do this.  You give us the ability to offer transformative experiences.  Experiences on the path to obtaining meaningful employment.  We love what we do, and we hope you do too.