Meet Cherish Medeiros…
Experiencing trauma as a toddler, Cherish was raised by her loving grandmother for ten years. After losing her grandmother to cancer, she lived with her father in a house full of drugs and alcohol. By sixth grade, she became dependent on substances, dropped out of school, and was in and out of the juvenile delinquent and foster care systems. At just 16 years old, Cherish had her first child. Ten years later and in fear of having her fourth child also taken away by CPS, she gave birth alone at home on her bed. It was this breaking point that made her realize that she needed to change her life in order to support her newborn daughter.
When Cherish enrolled at LearningQuest – it had been 15 years since she attended school and she was terrified. She struggled with anxiety, emotional outbursts in class and a defeated mindset. She said, “I had to rewire my brain. I know that my past usage of drugs and alcohol at such a young age has affected my retention of information.”
LearningQuest staff would patiently talk Cherish through those emotional struggles to get her back on track. Her confidence grew with the positive support, her panic attacks began to diminish, and she became more engaged in her assignments. She took her final test in March 2016 and passed – Cherish officially earned her diploma! At graduation, she walked the stage with joy as family and friends cheered.
Anton Lewis, her former instructor, said, “Cherish was never afraid to ask questions. As she progressed, she started answering them for herself – my instruction became just guidance. With every subject test passed, Cherish showed that hard work and dedication would make her successful at whatever she chose to do. I am constantly amazed and inspired by her accomplishments, and cannot wait to see what she will achieve next.”
Now, Cherish is a drug and alcohol counselor at Sierra Vista helping others rise above their addictions while finishing up administrative justice classes at MJC. Cherish has kept a close bond with her father and her four daughters and has a positive outlook on life. The next chapters planned in her story include graduating from MJC, transferring to CSU, Stanislaus, earning a Master’s in social work, and finally, working for Child Protective Services to support the families in positions similar to her own. Cherish now gives love, support, and guidance to her clients by sharing the kindness she received at LearningQuest.