FERNDALE — Alexyona Porch isn’t your typical 15-year-old.
While other 15-year-olds are planning for the end of their sophomore year of high school and looking forward to earning their driver’s licenses, Porch is preparing to graduate high school and get accepted to college.
After a year at a traditional high school, Porch transferred to the Digital Learning Center in Ferndale because she wasn’t being challenged enough. With a unique setup allowing students to work at their own pace and online, Porch was able to complete the remainder of her graduation requirements in one year at the DLC, which will allow her to graduate at the end of the school year.
“Basically, I have been working nonstop, and it has been a lot of teamwork between my mother and Ms. (Linda) Grand and the other (academic case managers) here. But basically, I just had to focus,” Porch said. “At the beginning of the year, I wanted to try and graduate by 16, but I never thought it would be a year and I could graduate at 15. I just wanted to finish so I could start college, because college is a lot of years, and if I get a head start on going to college, then I will come out and start my career early.”
Porch’s inspiration to graduate early came from her late grandmother, with whom Porch was very close.
“We were really close and I was literally glued to her,” Porch said of her grandmother. “When she passed, it broke my heart, but I was determined to keep that promise to her, (so) that when I did it this early, I didn’t even realize I was doing it.”
Tamia Ford, Porch’s mother, said Porch and her grandmother talked frequently about Porch graduating and going to college, so that when her grandmother passed, it made it even more of a priority for her. Besides her grandmother, Ford said Porch also has other inspirations in the family.
“Her grandmother passed away, like, three years ago, and they had a conversation about her graduating, and she would be proud of her and do it big for her,” Ford said. “(Alexyona) has wrote this note to her grandmother after she was gone and said she knows she is smiling down on her and happy she did it.
“That was her big motivation, but she has other people in the family who are (licensed practical nurses), and my father has a master’s degree, so she has a lot of people to look up to.”
Porch attended the now-closed Aisha Shule in Detroit for her freshman year of high school, but after struggling to remain challenged, Porch and her mother decided that the DLC was a better environment for her. Porch came into this school year with five credits and needed 13 more to have the required 18 to graduate.
Linda Grand, Porch’s academic case manager at the DLC, said each class can be done in 25-30 hours, depending on the number of modules, but Porch was more than determined to get through each class as fast as possible.
“It is a work-at-your-own-pace environment here, and when you are motivated and want things done, you go out and do it,” Grand said. “It is beneficial for people who are motivated and people who have other obligations and can’t necessarily be here. (Porch) was great at communicating, and she knew what she had to do.
“It has been quite a little adventure, and I am so proud of her. She is determined and motivated, and nothing is going to stop her from what she is going to do.”
At her previous high school, Ford said Porch continually complained of not being challenged enough and being bored. With the personality type of liking to stay at home, Ford said her daughter benefited greatly from the online-based classes at the DLC.
While she is nervous to see her 15-year-old prepare to go to college, Ford said she knows Porch has what it takes to succeed anywhere she goes.
“I am proud of her, but I knew she could do it because she is always challenging herself, and I pretty much knew she was going to do it because she is determined,” she said. “She has watched me have her and two other boys and be a single parent, and I do what I can do for them and get what they need and what they want. She has seen my struggles and I still maintain and am there to support her, but she doesn’t want to struggle like that.
“She is the first child of mine and my sister’s kids to graduate, and everyone is going to be looking at her, and her little brothers and cousins will follow in her footsteps. She set the bar high so they know they have to achieve this.”
Porch is just beginning the process of looking into college, but she is looking at going into the medical field as an obstetrician-gynecologist or as a nurse practitioner.
At the age of 15, Porch feels she is ready to make the next step in her education, even if the reality of graduating early still hasn’t sunk in.
“It still is not there yet, and I still don’t think I will feel it until I walk across the stage; it hasn’t registered,” she said of graduating. “It is crazy to think I finished 10th, 11th and 12th grade in one year. I didn’t realize I was doing this much work until they said I could graduate in June.”
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