CCA taught graduation speaker independence and self-confidence
As Kaili explored her college choices, the high cost of tuition was beginning to thin the list. Then a letter arrived from Penn State.
“Thanks to CCA, I got a Provost Award from Penn State University and that’s allowing me to attend the school of my dreams,” Kaili says.
Kaili, of Albrightsville, has been an active CCA student since seventh grade. As a graduation speaker for the class of 2020, she shared her wisdom with a class that will go down in history for its resilience.
Kaili credits CCA for helping her earn that Penn State Provost Award, a four-year financial award that helps defray tuition, because “colleges really look for students who are cyberschooled.”
“Colleges look for people who are independent,” she says. “That independence was already in me, but CCA really brought it out.”
Penn State Lehigh Valley with its beautiful campus was always Kaili’s first choice for college. Plus, her late, beloved grandfather was such a big Penn State fan that she wrote a dedication to him and his cherished Penn State on her graduation cap.
Kaili enrolled in CCA when her brick-and-mortar school insisted on putting the straight-A student in an inclusion class, slowing her academics. Her mom pulled her out of the school that day, and Kaili was fine with that. She was done with the drama. She was done with classes where the same things were reviewed over and over.
CCA was a refreshing, but challenging, change.
“CCA was definitely more difficult at first because I used to breeze through my schoolwork,” she says. “I struggled with my classes, which I enjoyed because I was actually learning.”
Kaili’s favorite part about CCA is its flexibility.
“Your schedule can fit your needs,” she says. “It doesn’t fit anyone else’s needs but yours. You can do schoolwork the whole week in advance if you need to.”
That flexibility allowed Kaili to maintain her academic standing while playing soccer for her local high school and, later, a rec league.
“If I had a game that day that was far away, I could play and not worry about the schoolwork. If I had practices early in the morning, I could do it later.”
On the soccer pitch, Kaili adds, “I can be myself. I don’t have to worry about anything else. I can just play and stay active.”
Kaili also dove into CCA activities. She belonged to Future Business Leaders of America. As treasurer of the National Honor Society, she helped make Valentine’s Day cards for people in local hospitals and nursing homes. As a CCA ambassador, she assured new enrollees that a bit of confusion at first is OK and that teachers are always there to help.
“Never give up,” she would tell them. “Make sure you always keep trying.”
Through CCA’s Learner-to-Learner tutoring program, Kaili loved helping students overcome their learning challenges.
“You see that little sparkle when they finally get it,” she says.
Kaili has always wanted to be a graduation speaker, and CCA made her dream come true. At CCA, all graduating seniors may submit speeches for consideration. A staff committee selects the speakers and helps them fine-tune their addresses.
In her speech, Kaili told classmates “how amazing this graduating class is. They stay positive in this time of crisis. They’re always self-driven, and they are going to do amazing things.” Once they’re freed from the confinement of the COVID-19 shutdowns, they will be eager to do all the things they’ve been thinking about.
Kaili’s future includes playing soccer at Penn State Lehigh Valley. Her choice of studies – majoring in psychology, minoring in rehabilitation & human services – was inspired by her CCA sociology class, which introduced her to the fascinations of the human brain and “what contributes to you being you.” Her studies will open a world of career opportunities, while she still gets to help people.
Kaili’s mom, Kimberly, calls her daughter “a go-getter. If she got a 99, she wanted that 100.”
Taking Kaili out of her brick-and-mortar school was a scary decision, but her education meant too much.
“Besides giving her confidence and independence, CCA challenged Kaili to be a better person,” Kimberly says. Her socialization never suffered and her calendar is “probably busier than most.” As graduation day loomed, Kimberly praised CCA’s teachers as “a different form of educator,” always there for their students.
Kaili thanks the staff for “everything they did.”
“I would not be the person I am today without them — this independent, outgoing, strong person that knows what they want and what they need to do to achieve their dreams.”