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'Never too late to graduate' | The Excel Center gives Memphians of all ages hope, high school diploma & job skills

The free program through Goodwill helps adults graduate in order to strengthen career opportunities and future wages.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — ABC24 continues to look at solutions when it comes to fighting crime in Memphis, and how education can offer hope - no matter your age. 

That's where Goodwill's 'The Excel Center' comes into play. It targets the 120,000 adults in Shelby County without a high school diploma or those teenagers who recently dropped out, live in poverty, and aren't working.

That includes Lataurus Jordan, who told ABC24, "Don't give up. Don't give up. If there's a will, there's a way."

For him, there's no expiration date to graduate or follow your dreams. 

"I dropped out of school at like 17," Jordan said. "I'm 43 now. I have six kids and trying to show that you can still go to school and be what you want to be when you grow up." 

Jordan will graduate in December from The Excel Center in Memphis. It allows students of all ages to get their high school diploma and gain skills in nearly 20 different programs, at no charge.

"It's really important because there's a lot of people who aren't here today at a young age, dying off. And for you to have to an opportunity that you can really change your life on a different path, it's a great opportunity," Jordan added.

Beyond the classroom, life coaches at The Excel Center assist students with their emotional needs, whether it's anger management or past trauma.

"We know if we don't do it, if we don't reach them, poverty is only going to continue. The crime is only to increase," The Excel Center School Director Candis Dawson-Taylor said. "I love seeing students all the time, running into them in the community and hearing their stories about how their life has changed.

"They helped me expand my career, as far as my certification," Talor Steed said, who will graduate in December with a focus on aviation mechanics after initially dropping out senior year in 2016. 

"I feel like it's never too late," Steed said. "If you are going down the wrong path, you always have a chance to turn yourself around."

A new semester for The Excel Center begins September 26th and those who lead the program say it's not too late to enroll. 

To find out more about The Excel Center and the newly expanded certification programs it offers, go to: https://www.goodwillmemphis.org/theexcelcenter.

RELATED: Memphis center that gives adults new hope to graduate, gain job skills is expanding | here's where you can sign up to progress in a career

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