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Escondido Student Doubles Her Courage, Triples Her Exam Store

When the exam results appeared on Escondido Adult School student’s Shaniesta Gregory’s computer screen, she couldn’t believe it. The long road she had traveled to earn a passing test score on her HiSET exam had finally come to an end – all of her hard work had paid off, and she would officially earn her high school diploma. She wondered to herself, “Could this be a dream?”

Shaniesta always knew that a college education was part of her life plan, but with the daunting cost of tuition at the school in her hometown in Oklahoma, that dream seemed like it would never come true. She knew that she had the determination and grit to be successful at the college level, but without a high school diploma or equivalency certificate in-hand, Shaniesta would not be eligible for admissions or financial aid, both of which were absolutely necessary for her to enroll.

Encouraged by her father who told her that she “needed to start at the bottom to reach the top,” Shaniesta signed up for the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET), a series of exams that would fulfill the diploma requirement and make her an eligible college candidate. Over the next several months, Shaniesta studied and took the exam three different times, but failed every attempt. She realized that her goal was more difficult than she had originally anticipated, and she became defeated.

To make matters more complicated, during this time Shaniesta, her husband Kyle, and three children found out they had to relocate to Southern California to live with relatives. Shaniesta was worried that all of her time studying and efforts to earn her diploma would go unrewarded, and that she would have to give up. However, with the support of her dad, her family in Oklahoma, and now her family in California, Shaniesta made the decision to prepare for the exam again by enrolling in a high school preparation class at Escondido Adult School’s satellite campus, Two Directions at the Rincon Indian Reservation.

Two Directions offers Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (SCTCA) participants enrolled in the TANF (Tribal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) program the opportunity to prepare to earn their diploma or equivalency certificate. Since she knew what to expect in the HiSET exam, Shaniesta decided to give it another shot – but this time, she wasn’t taking any chances of failing.

The instructors at Two Directions gave her the extra help and valuable support she needed to face an exam that filled her with anxiety. She soon began feeling much more confident in her testing abilities and scheduled a time to take the test. Then, COVID-19 hit; restrictions went into place, and Shaniesta could no longer attend classes in person. She and her Two Directions teacher made a game plan – they would connect through video chat once per week and Shaniesta would complete her homework online and receive additional assistance. With two kids at home, Shaniesta studied day and night and completed a seemingly neverending series of practice tests required by her teachers. By July, it was test time.

Two Directions set up a COVID-safe testing center at its office so Shaniesta could take the exam. One hour later, she had completed the test and received her score – which not only surpassed, but tripled her previously highest score! She had finally passed the HiSET exam. “Shaniesta is an exemplary example of a student who faced continuous obstacles that stood in the way of her education,” says Stacey Adame, Co-Principal of Escondido Adult School. “We are proud of her perseverance to succeed and of our partnership with the Two Directions satellite campus.”

With a hard-earned high school diploma in-hand, Shaniesta is enjoying being able to explore potential colleges and majors so she can focus in on her ultimate goal of earning a college degree.


Shaniesta Gregory, EAS Student