Adairia Kelly says that when people look at her, they don’t realize everything she’s been through. She’s self-assured, made the Dean’s List at Miami University and had mapped out an academic career that included graduate school. Their were some significant hurdles she had to overcome to get to that point.
When Adairia enrolled in a new and demanding high school, Dayton Early College Academy (DECA), she had to learn to develop academic independence and concrete study habits for the first time in her educational life.
DECA provided Adairia a personalized education, rigorous standards and a financial and academic jumpstart that, with hard work, could help students earn an associate degree at the same time as a high school diploma.
Adairia found herself on the University of Dayton campus at age 14. Compared to her experiences in urban Dayton elementary and middle schools, almost nothing about DECA felt familiar. “It was so new, I just had to adjust.”
But between DECA’s teachers and advisers, she got the help she needed to make that adjustment.
Adairia’s adviser and science teacher Melissa Reiger saw a range of possibilities for the young student.“From the beginning I could see potential in Adairia but I also saw that she was holding herself back,” she said. “She could be stubborn or let her attitude get in the way. At the same time, I could see that she could question and think critically along with having great leadership skills. Most of all, when she found a passion in something, she would excel.”The commitment of DECA teachers helped Adairia build her own commitment to her education. “As I got into the groove of things, I understood how hard I had to work and that I was in control of my learning…,” Adairia said. “My teachers were there to advise, not to hand things to me.”Adairia left DECA with her high school diploma (the first person to achieve that on her mother’s side of the family), along with 56 college credits and a full scholarship to Miami University.