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Vanessa Castillo is a college student with a plan to become a minister. She’s a long way from where she started, thanks in large part to your support of Trident Literacy.

Vanessa was an honor roll student when she left home at 14, moved in with a guy at 15, dropped out and got pregnant. For several years as a single mother she lived on welfare, bouncing from job to job.After a while, she realized she was on the wrong path and came to Trident Literacy to study for her GED.

On the first try, she missed the passing grade by just a few points. Discouraged, she found excuses to avoid returning.

Eventually, feeling incomplete without her diploma, Vanessa returned and found Nell Phillips, the Moncks Corner site manager, who was the first person in her life to encourage her dreams. “Nell was my biggest cheerleader. I wouldn’t have succeeded without her,” she said.

Vanessa earned her GED, which allowed her to get a job as a pre-school teacher. It was required for her current job at the Naval Base, where she is learning every aspect of the operation so she can move up into management.

Vanessa’s success encouraged her sister Nicole to get her GED.

Vanessa is now a full-time working mother of five and a ministerial leadership student in Southeastern University’s online program. Her hard work and dedication to education is rubbing off on her kids, most of whom are on the honor roll. “My kids are watching me. We have competitions to see who gets the best grades in the house,” she said.

Vanessa’s dream is to become a missionary. “People tell me that single mothers aren’t missionaries,” she said. “So why can’t I be the first?”