Niomie Ruffalo 

Many times in life we find ourselves wondering why’s and asking what-ifs. A lot of my nights were hindered with these constant provoking thoughts. But one thing remained constant in my heart and that was the want, the desire to graduate burning immensely within. Every day when I would wake up, I was faced with my internal voice repeating; “School, I must go to school. School, I have to go.”

Some mornings though, I couldn’t even get out of bed, my depression mixed with the horrible heaviness of anxiety was to intense. I felt frozen in moments like these. I often felt like the whole world was weighing on my shoulders and I had the desire to do everything about it, yet a lack of motivation and gloomy thoughts lingered inside me instead. Going to school seemed like a pretty large hurdle for most days. Struggling with depression and anxiety really made daily tasks difficult for me, and for awhile I never talked about this, nor admitted my struggles due to fear of the unnecessary judgements from others that I thought would be too harsh. The only motivation I contained was the aspiration to receive my high school diploma. In my past, I have realized that I struggled with self-sabotaging which was preventing me from achieving my desires. There had to be a point where I kissed that habit goodbye. However, life has had it’s mysteries.

I had already made the choice to drop out of public school; my mental illness was too much, juggling a full-time job, and dealing with a rough relationship was all too overwhelming. I dreaded knowing that my desires for my future had come to a full stop. Any dreams that remained of going to college and earning my PhD, pursuing Anesthesiology, gone, forever. My mental state was shot. I was drowning and I needed change. I needed to follow my heart rather than my head. I researched different high schools in my area. I discovered none of these schools accepted students over the age of eighteen. I was extremely discouraged as no one would accept me at the age I was. I knew I waited, and I’d prolonged my journey, but I shouldn’t be punished for not being at my full capacity before. I deserved another chance!

It was then that I discovered Acceleration Academy. When I got off the phone with the principal, I felt butterflies in my heart and warmth in my cheeks. I can earn my high school diploma still! My destiny is not over!

I remember how it felt that morning getting ready for my first day meeting all of the teachers, and entering the building where I would soar high for the sky! I was met with friendly faces and a welcoming energy. I started that day, and began my courses. I formed a healthy relationship with the guidance counselor and she was the light in my very dark tunnel. She helped me talk out my anxiety filled problems, and fight my depression day by day. Not to mention, I began a new, healthy relationship with the man I am now married too. Things were looking up for me, life was changing dramatically. Remember how I said life has its mysteries?

I am most thankful for the teachers and the GCA. They have been supportive through my struggles and caring about my future when I couldn’t. No one, I repeat, no one made my moments at AA miserable or too much to handle. Everyone did the very opposite. To be honest, belonging to Acceleration Academy has been a miracle and a blessing in itself. They have played a large part in my ability to have graduated. They have helped me and have encouraged my feelings and my self belief that I will pursue and reach all my goals in college. Thank you guys for not giving up on me in the moments I gave up on myself.


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