Nicole Stevens is currently enrolled in MiraCosta’s Adult High School, a free program that offers adults who did not complete high school the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, and prepares them for the rigors of higher education.
“My family is Romani,” explains Stevens. “In the Romani culture, children don’t always go to school—I stopped after elementary school. And, we get married off early into arranged marriages. It’s a different kind of culture, and it wasn’t what I wanted for my life.”
Before she had to enter an arranged marriage, Stevens left home to live with her sister where she could pursue her own dreams. But she ran into a stumbling block. “I wanted to be an au pair in France, but I couldn’t even apply, because I didn’t have a High School Diploma, which was a requirement. I couldn’t find a job without one.”
Stevens started working on some business ideas with her sister, who was enrolled in the MiraCosta Adult High School program. Stevens decided to enroll, too. “I was nervous when I first started. I wasn’t sure what life was going to be like in the ‘outside’ world. But it was an easy transition. Everyone was so helpful, and it’s such a supportive environment.”
Stevens is taking some college courses along with her high school studies, and her dream to travel abroad as an au pair has changed after getting into her classes and discovering subjects she felt passionate about. “I plan to transfer to a four-year school after I finish my degree at MiraCosta. I want to study anthropology and sociology.”
Although she hasn’t pinned down her exact career path, Stevens says she is thinking about work that will combine research and teaching. “I’d like to find a way to bring education into the Romani culture, somehow, to help them,” she says. “I’m glad I took this path. I’m excited to see where my studies at MiraCosta will take me.”