It was by chance that Kristie Smith stumbled upon Enhanced Horizons, a young adult transitional living program. The program is designed specifically to help prepare homeless young adults, ages 18-24, or young mothers in need of assistance, to live successfully as independent adults through education, job training and life skills development.

One aspect of the program is the Enhanced Horizons Charter School. An extension of the Big Springs Charter School, fully accredited by the Texas Education Agency, the school offers students who did not graduate from high school the opportunity to obtain a high school diploma.

Kristie first learned about the program through a friend named Iris, who had gone through the program and said, “Enhanced Horizons does wonders for people who are committed,” so Kristie decided to call and find out more.

When Kristie was accepted to the Young Mothers’ program in August 2014, she also enrolled in the charter school to continue her goal of obtaining her high school diploma. She says that her driving force was her son Aiden, “I was not going to fail, as people had told me in the past.”

Kristie understood that it was going to be a really big challenge for her to get her diploma, but through hard work, determination and guidance from the Enhanced Horizons and Charter School staff, she was able to earn seven credits and obtain her high school diploma at the end of the school year. Graduation day was very special for Kristie, as she was asked by Superintendent Mike Wood to speak at the Big Springs Charter School graduation on behalf of the Enhanced Horizons program.

“I was very overwhelmed that day and it was a huge honor to speak at the graduation ceremony.” Kristie added, “If it was not for Enhanced Horizons, I don’t know where I would be.”

Today, Kristie is giving back to her alma mater. She is currently employed by the Cailloux/Najim Charter School as a teacher aide. “I’m so happy to be working with the students at the Charter School because I see myself in them. All they need is that chance, the chance that was given to me.”

Kristie’s advice for future students for the Cailloux Center for Adult Learning is to, “Find something that motivates you. Aiden was mine. That’ll make you go after your dreams and your goals. No matter how long or hard your journey, pray to the Lord to give you strength to continue this self-fulfilling journey!”

-by Albert Hernandez, Superintendent of the Brune/Cailloux/Najim Charter Schools