19-year-old Yeimi describes herself as a hard worker and a continuous learner. It’s no surprise, considering what she has been through. Yeimi has had to fight for everything she’s wanted to get where she is today—and the journey has been an uphill battle.
When Yeimi was a baby, her grandparents immigrated to the United States from Mexico, and they brought her along with high hopes for a better life and more opportunities in America. Growing up, Yeimi lived with her aunt and cousins in the Indianapolis Public School district, where she attended a school within walking distance from her home.
Despite not speaking English when she started kindergarten at the age of six, Yeimi caught on quickly. English soon became her favorite subject and she excelled in school. She earned all A’s up until middle school when she was introduced to drugs.
“I started smoking, which led to skipping class, and eventually, I quit going to school altogether,” said Yeimi.
Her drug use escalated when she went to high school, and so did issues with her academics and behaviors at school. By her junior year, she had been expelled twice and was told she could no longer attend school in that school system. When the school board gave her this news, they offered an alternative option—Hope Academy. Reluctantly, she decided to give the recovery high school a try.
“When I first came to Hope, I thought, ‘I don’t belong here; I don’t have a problem,’” said Yeimi.
Yeimi continued in a state of denial for an entire year. She showed up for school, went through the motions, but says she couldn’t receive help because she wasn’t willing to take it.
“I always had the idea that if I wanted to stop using, I could,” said Yeimi. “It wasn’t true, but it was what I believed at the time.”
The truth was, she couldn’t stop using—and she didn’t. Soon, she was expelled from Hope Academy for bringing substances to school. At only 18 years old, Yeimi became homeless and unsure what her future would hold.
“I wasn’t thinking about my future because there wasn’t anything to plan,” she says.
In 2020, Yeimi’s uncle took her in and suggested she re-enroll in Hope Academy. The administration welcomed Yeimi back to Hope Academy and she started attending school once again, and, this time, she had a new perspective. She started seeing a therapist, participating in class and activities with her peers, and began passing drug screens consistently.
“I saw there was so much potential as I slowly started accomplishing things,” said Yeimi.
Although she had difficulties, the Hope Academy community never gave up on her—something Yeimi could never quite understand, but something for which she is truly grateful.
“Hope is one of the few safe places that provided the support I needed,” said Yeimi. “They were always willing to help with anything, and I’m so thankful for the many chances they provided me.”
Earlier this year, Yeimi graduated from Hope Academy. She currently works at a body shop and a restaurant and is saving up for college. She looks forward to pursuing a degree in social work to lead her to her ultimate ambition of helping children in the foster care system. Best of all, Yeimi is sober and enjoying the newfound freedom of life in recovery.