Age 23.
Graduate of Raines High School and Job Corps.

Growing up, Jaleesa had a tumultuous childhood. Her mother had her young, and by the time Jaleesa was 10, she had moved in with her grandmother, a more peaceful and religious environment.

But by then, Jaleesa’s troubles in school had already begun. Deaf in one ear, her reading level was low, and she had trouble pronouncing words. She didn’t get a hearing aid until seventh grade, and it was big and clunky and the color didn’t match her skin.

“I was embarrassed to wear it,” Jaleesa said. “I was afraid other kids would make fun of it.”

As Jaleesa grew, it got too small, and she stopped wearing it. A new one was too expensive to afford.

All along, no one—including Jaleesa—realized how much Jaleesa’s hearing problem was affecting her education.

Meanwhile, being limited to special education classes left her feeling worthless and inadequate.

By the time Jaleesa arrived in high school, her confidence was shaken. She wanted to try out for flag corps but was afraid she wouldn’t make it.

“There were a lot of things I wanted to do in high school, but I didn’t, because I was worried,” she said.

At the end of her senior year, Jaleesa got pregnant. Then, through her church, she was introduced to Families and Children Intervention. Over the last few years, this organization helped her with her two young sons, and it also obtained a hearing aid for her. Since then, Jaleesa has improved her reading skills and completed vocational training to become a pharmacy technician.

For the first time, Jaleesa is confident about her future.