BRADENTON, FL – For Kashani Abnar, 22, earning her high school diploma didn’t work out so well the first time around. But, thanks to a partnership of Goodwill Manasota and Manatee Technical College – along with financial and coaching support from Goodwill – she was finally able to walk the stage, collect her GED, and take the next step toward a better future.
Abnar left high school in 11th grade, enrolling in an alternative school program where she did very well, going from six to 18 credit hours in just one year. But when she turned 18, she was no longer eligible for the program and was told she would have to pursue her GED on her own.
She began working at Goodwill Manasota’s Mecca location in April 2017. Like all employees at Goodwill, she began meeting with a GoodPartner Coach shortly after beginning her new job. The first goal Abnar identified was to earn her GED and, at that time, MTC was providing a GED class at her work location. Her leadership team was flexible, enabling her to work toward her diploma while both on and off the clock.
Abnar completed her work toward her GED at the MTC West Campus in Bradenton, which was close to her home. Goodwill covered the cost of the vouchers needed to take her GED Ready tests and, after that, she passed all four of her GED test subjects. Although she had technically missed the deadline to walk for graduation, an email from her GoodPartner Coach to MTC paved the way for an exception to made. In the end, Abnar enjoyed walking the stage at the end of May (with two proud Goodwill GoodPartner Coaches in attendance) as well as a work celebration with the team that had supported her through her educational journey.
While studying at MTC, Abnar’s GoodPartner Coach encouraged her to research career training programs, to review job descriptions and pay scales. She has decided to pursue her paralegal certification, and will begin classes in January 2020. Her certification is being funded by Goodwill’s Rick and Coni Fawley Scholarship Fund.
The organizations have worked together well in recent years. In 2018, when MTC’s North Campus in Palmetto closed, Goodwill provided community room space for MTC’s GED classes at three Manatee County Goodwill locations. Additionally, Goodwill team members and community members served through the free Job Connection career services program who have earned their GED with assistance from the Fawley Fund can receive additional funds to support earning a technical certification – for free – at MTC, just as Abnar is doing.
“By earning their GED, community members can make more money, increase their job satisfaction, and have the possibility of attending college, if that is their goal,” said Margie Genter, vice president of Goodwill Manasota. "Our Goodwill Works, GoodPartner Coach and Goodwill® U programs are focused on providing team members with the tools and resources to be successful at work, to enjoy personal growth, and to achieve their life goals. We congratulate Kashani for her efforts and look forward to seeing great things in her future."
Genter also noted that Goodwill provides nearly 20,000 hours of on-the-clock training to its team members annually. Any employees who wish to earn their GED through the Goodwill-hosted MTC classes can participate for up to 90 minutes weekly while on the clock and complete the rest through computers at a Goodwill Job Connection center or at home.
“Goodwill has helped me immensely in reaching my goals, starting with the team leader coach at Mecca who allowed me to change my schedule in order to make it to class every weekday night,” said Abnar. “My GoodPartner Coach was also there to help me stay motivated along the way. Another way Goodwill has supported me was in providing funds for school - how amazing is that?”
For more about Goodwill, go to experiencegoodwill.org or call (941) 355-2721.
PHOTO ID: Kashani Abnar (center) during her graduation at MTC with Goodwill GoodPartner Coaches Diana Olivieri (left) and Shirley Walker