LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)--The Excel Center in Lafayette is helping students reach graduation with a little help.
Students are matched with a life coach to help them through academics and outside the classroom. The program is something Kimiko Upchurch said she has never experienced before.
"They know how to encourage you and uplift you in a way you can't get in a normal school setting," said Upchurch. "It's all about just do the work in regular schools, so at the Excel Center, it was all like a family."
Kimiko said having two kids and working full time is something many students at the center can relate to.
Lead Life Coach Anita Brown was there every step of the way for Kimiko. Brown said getting students to graduation can be a challenge.
"Sometimes it's the coaches really nagging," Brown said. "You have a couple more classes to finish so let's get this finished so you can walk across that stage to graduate."
Students in the program must pass standardized tests along with other final projects in order to graduate. Kimiko said she had to retest multiple times, partially because she was unable to see her tests.
When Brown heard she needed help, she bought her a new pair of glasses and Kimiko finally passed.
"I bawled when I passed, because you helped me get just that little obstacle because I couldn't get glasses on my own. I couldn't afford them."
The program also offers free child care for students and transportation assistance. Schedules for classes are year-round with five eight-week terms for students to earn their diplomas faster.