Dropping out of high school at the age of 16 isn't going to stop 19-year-old Katie Renfroe of Sparta from reaching her goal. Renfroe plans to one day be an entrepreneur and own her own bookstore.
The Southwestern Illinois College Adult Basic Education Out-of-School Youth Program is helping her take her first steps toward her dream. Program staff works with individuals between the ages of 17 and 21, who have left school, to help them earn a GED and gain job experience or prepare for college.
Renfroe says she thought the program sounded too good to be true at first, but it's helped her get her life together and begin to move forward.
Thanks to program assistance, she earned her GED in November 2013. She's also gotten work experience with the Sparta Public Library where she helped with administrative assistant duties and shelving books. She also helped with the library's recent fundraiser.
The job helped her develop customer service skills and gave her a better idea of what owning a bookstore might entail.
"I would tell others who might be where I was to stop wasting time and give the program a shot. It's life-changing and an unbelievable opportunity," Renfroe said, adding that Youth Services Coordinator Michelle Keim has been a terrific mentor. "She's spent a lot of time helping me get things together."
She now looks forward to an opportunity to seek employment at a larger retail store to continue her education in bookstore management.
To learn more about the Out-Of-School Youth Program in Monroe and Randolph counties, call 618-282-6682, ext. 8001.