Adult Education Student Named Student of the Year for 2015

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March 10, 2010 is a significant date for Jayne Helyer.  On this day, Jayne began a journey down a long, winding and hilly road that has led her towards a better quality of life.  This road also led her to the doors of the Syracuse City School District’s (SCSD) Adult Education program where she gathered up the strength and courage to enroll in an evening High School Equivalency (HSE) class and pursue a high school diploma. 
The culmination of her hard work and determination was realized this past June when she received her HSE.  She has now been chosen as one of the New York Association for Continuing and Community Education Students of the Year for 2015.  She will be recognized March 10th in Albany along with 13 others.    
Jayne was born in New Zealand and moved to the United States with her adoptive parents when she was four years old.  She had what she describes as a very normal upbringing until the 9th grade.  It was during this year that she began skipping school, running away from home on a regular basis and experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  At the time, she was struggling with her identity; who she was and how she fit into her adoptive family.  By the time she was 16 years old she was homeless and using drugs daily.
At age 21, Jayne was living in Florida, married and pregnant with the first of her two children.  She was employed as a Certified Nursing Assistant.  On the surface, everything appeared to be normal….but it wasn’t.  Eventually her drug use and the lifestyle that came with it alienated her from her husband and children.  She found herself once again homeless, with no direction or hope for a better life.  She migrated back to New Jersey and eventually to Syracuse, where she landed in the homeless shelter at The Salvation Army.  She then began a series of stints in and out of rehab, all leading up to that day, March 10, 2010.
Since that day, Jayne has accomplished so much.  Part of her recovery process has been about achieving self-sufficiency and that meant finding full time employment and living independently.  She enrolled in evening classes and after two years of study earned her High School Equivalency diploma.  Subsequently, she applied for New York State certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant and went back to work at a local nursing home in Syracuse.  This past September, Jayne enrolled in the Licensed Practical Nursing program at the SCSD and is studying hard to earn credentials to become an LPN as she continues to work part time.  In addition to her schooling, she has been actively seeking reconciliation with her children.  Jayne is also giving back to her community.  She attends group sessions at a local hospital detox program where she mentors others who are struggling with addiction.
Although life is still challenging for Jayne she has a determination and a spirit that shines through in every conversation and interaction.  She continues on that long, windy and hilly road, head held high, looking towards the horizon and a brighter future.
Congratulations on a well deserved honor!