We are so proud of our Front Runners student Evelyn, who just graduated from Atherton High School last week! We wanted to throw her a little graduation party since an in-person graduation didn’t happen. So, we brought signs and goodies as a congrats!
Evelyn’s been with us since the very beginning. She began attending the Front Runners program when she was in 6th grade in September 2014. “The Backside Learning Center has helped me a lot,” Evelyn said. “You guys helped me get into Atherton, helped me get into UofL, helped me get scholarships. Anything that’s school related, you guys have been there.”
Her mother, Bertila, has worked at the backside of Churchill Downs for the past 13 years. Because of that, Evelyn has been connected with the backside of Churchill Downs for a lot of her life. “My favorite memories would be when we used to go to the little farm by Iroquois clinic,” Evelyn said. “That’s where most kids my age were and where we had the most space to play and run around.”
As far as future plans, Evelyn is going to attend the University of Louisville next year and wants to go premed. “I want to be a doctor,” Evelyn said. “I don’t know what kind of doctor, but I think I’m interested in that.” In terms of extra-curriculars, Evelyn was a member of National Honor Society, French Club and the track team. Lauren DeGeorge, the director of programs, used to help with rides. “Lauren helped me get to practice when I was a member of the Track team,” Evelyn said. “She also helped me with my resume.”
We are so proud you, of Evelyn!
Up next, Vanessa!
Vanessa recently graduated from Doss High School. She wants to join the Marines to be able to continue her desire to be a nurse and an anesthesiologist assistant one day. Like Evelyn, Vanessa has also been with the BLC since the very beginning. She began as a 6th grader. Her mother, Martha, is a foreman here at the Backside.
“It’s inspirational, seeing Backside Learning Center grow,” says Vanessa. “It’s grown with the students, with technology, and opportunities offered. It’s emotional for me since I’ve been involved with it.”
Vanessa says she received a lot of help as a student of the Front Runner’s program, too. As a student, she most bonded with a tutor named Celeste Arnett. “Celeste and I got really close,” Vanessa stated. “She was the biggest motivator to keep me going. She kept me motivated to do my work.” She also gained a lot of life skills volunteering as a K-2 tutor, using her bilingualism to help explain things to younger students. “Working as a tutor helped me learn skills that I needed with how to communicate with others, to help provide for the whole community.”
We are so honored to have grown with you Vanessa. Congratulations! We are so excited to see all that you’re going to accomplish!
Our final 2020 high school graduate of our Backside Learning Center community is Alexis! Alexis graduated from Central High School a few weeks ago. Initially, Alexis struggled a bit academically. However, with a lot of hard work, he’s proud to celebrate his graduation as a first-generation graduate.
Alexis is the son of Silvia, one of our beloved students. Silvia works as a hotwalker and has been for the past 10 years. Alexis’s dad has worked at the backside for over 30 years. In short, Alexis’s upbringing has definitely revolved around the track.
Alexis is currently working as a hot walker on the backside at Churchill Downs. At first, he was interested in nursing, but is now considering many possible career paths. Currently, he is content working at the backside and is excited for his future—whatever his job may be.