Archive for Thursday, June 30, 2005

Recent grad’s life changes dramatically

June 30, 2005

A Basehor-Linwood High School graduate, albeit a non-traditional one, has soared since receiving her diploma this May.

Donna Lewis, a 33-year-old Kansas City, Kan., resident, earned her diploma through the Basehor-Linwood-Virtual School. She dropped out of high school when she was 16, but re-enrolled through the virtual program to set an example for her daughter.

After receiving her diploma, Lewis has seen her life improve dramatically.

Earlier this month, the Zonta Club of Kansas City, Kan., named Lewis as the recipient of its "Reaching for the Stars" Zonta KCK Woman of Achievement Award winner. The club named Lewis as the award winner after reading a cover story about her in the May 12 edition of The Sentinel.

The Zonta Club is an organization dedicated to advancing the status of women worldwide and aims at furthering women's education, leadership and youth development. Organization officials credited Lewis for earning her diploma through "much hard work and many obstacles."

Lewis said she was stunned to learn of her selection as award winner.

"It was just overwhelming to know I got an award for achieving my high school diploma," Lewis said.

But, winning the award has only been the beginning. She has also received a better job since graduation, one that provides her health insurance and benefits, two added bonuses she sought for her and her family.

Lewis, a former parts counter at U.S. Boatworks in Armourdale, is now working in shipping and handling for the Stone company in Kansas City, Mo. The company also hired Lewis after reading her story in this newspaper.

"I really like the job," Lewis said. "It seems like something I will stick with. Now, I wake up and I actually want to drive to work."

Nicole Williams, assistant director of the virtual school, sent an e-mail to Basehor-Linwood officials upon learning of Lewis' selection and new job. Lewis has become a source of pride for the virtual program, a poster child of sorts, attesting to the power of continuing education and a never-say-die attitude.

"It appears that doors are opening all over for Donna because of her drive to further her education," Williams wrote. "She is truly an inspiration. She is extremely appreciative of the learning opportunities that Basehor-Linwood provided her.

"Her whole personality has changed. ... She has so much more confidence," Williams said.

Lewis, who credit Williams and Virtual School director Brenda De Groot with continually motivating her to graduate, said she's considering enrolling in college courses soon to study either photography or computer science.

And considering what's she's earned after receiving her high school diploma, there's no telling what rewards await her upon receiving a degree.

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