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From Getting By to Flying High
Dancing makes me feel bigger than myself.
Eva was never a good student for one simple reason: she didn’t have to be. She went to a large high school and many of her classes were overcrowded, so it easy to lie low and do the bare minimum just get by.
She lived with her mom, who never finished high school and rarely held Eva accountable for anything, especially her grades. As long as Eva pitched in around the house and did a few chores, that kept her mom happy.
But Eva did have one motivator— her school’s dance team. She was one of the captains, and she took her role seriously. It was the one thing in her life that gave her energy.
“Dancing makes me feel bigger than myself,” said Eva, now 15 years old.
To remain eligible for the team, Eva had to maintain a C average, which wasn’t hard to do. But as Eva coasted academically and continued to hand in sloppy, average work, a new pattern emerged. She started skipping assignments and blowing off projects until the last minute.
“I could always turn in extra credit to boost my grades,” she said. “But eventually, I fell too far behind.”
The extra credit assignments she once relied on were not enough when Eva started failing big tests. After being put on academic probation, she became ineligible for the dance team and was asked to turn in her uniform.
“Getting kicked off the dance team really put me in a bad place,” she said. “It was the once thing that I actually liked doing. Without that, I didn’t feel like I had anything going for me.”
With nothing motivating her to even do the bare minimum, Eva essentially gave up. She starting hanging out with the wrong crowd and skipping school most days of the week.
“We would usually just go over to someone’s house,” she said. “Their parents were always at work, so we’d have the whole place to ourselves. Usually, we’d just listen to music and play on our phones, but then people started drinking and doing drugs.”
Despite giving Eva a long leash, her mom grew concerned when Eva started staying out all night. Often times she had no idea of Eva’s whereabouts. And when she did come home, Eva was combative and defensive about where she’d been.
“I was just frustrated and angry about life, so I started acting out,” Eva said. “I know now it was wrong, but at the time I couldn’t stop myself.”
Thankfully, her mom finally stepped in and put an end to Eva’s downward spiral. After a few months of living in fear that her daughter was heading down a dangerous path, Eva’s mom researched some solutions. That’s when she came across Mercy Home for Boys & Girls and scheduled an appointment to learn more.
“I was so used to coming and going as I pleased,” said Eva. “So I wasn’t exactly excited about the idea of coming to Mercy Home and following all these rules. But my mom sat me down and told me how she wanted a better life for me—that I could do big things if I got help and tried. Deep down, I knew she was right.”
Doing well in school gives me options, instead of just settling for whatever comes my way.
When Eva moved in, the transition was difficult. She argued a lot with her peers and struggled to connect with them. But eventually, Mercy Home’s unconditional love, patience, and positivity started to sink in. Not only that, but Eva started seeing results.
“After a few months, I finally got with the program. And you know what? I felt a lot better about myself when I did,” Eva said.
Thanks to the academic plan mapped out by our Education and Career Resources team, Eva reframed her perspective on education. Instead of skating by, she started to take ownership of her studies as a way to embolden her future.
“Doing well in school gives me options, instead of just settling for whatever comes my way,” Eva said.
With this newfound positive attitude, Eva’s grades went above and beyond. She made the honor roll for the first time and rejoined her dance team—all thanks to the love, support, and generosity of good friends like you.
Please note: Because we care deeply about protecting our children’s privacy, the names and certain identifying details in this story have been changed.