FLVS Graduate Pursues Her Dreams Amid Adversity

Caps and tassels fly through the air, loved ones excitedly cheer from the audience, students instantly bond over the once-in-a-lifetime moment where they get to celebrate a decade of growing and learning and turn the page on their future.

Behind them are years of notes and assignments, memories from student clubs and activities, and plenty of Zoom calls. Ahead of them is the opportunity to shape their future. And for FLVS Class of 2021 graduate Madeleine (Maddy) Phinney, it’s an opportunity to build a life for herself and her one-year-old daughter.

Finding the Right Fit

High school is full of challenges and lots of juggling—from schoolwork to planning their next steps. For Maddy, it also included raising her young daughter alone.

“I chose Florida Virtual because I got pregnant in my junior year and wanted to be able to take care of my daughter at home,” said Maddy. “It gave me the flexibility to be able to do my classes at night. There were many times I didn’t believe I’d be able to graduate. It’s been hard as a single mom without much help watching my daughter since I’m in the foster system. But she motivates me to stay up late every night to finish and go to college.”

Juggling high school while raising a newborn wasn’t the first time Maddy had to face a challenging new experience. She spent time in foster care, group homes, and her grades fluctuated as she struggled to find a support system.

After becoming pregnant during her junior year, she required intensive prenatal care throughout her pregnancy—forcing her to miss school frequently. With her challenges pilling up, her previous high school encouraged her to drop out and get her GED. Maddy refused and worked with a counselor to enroll in FLVS for the second half of her junior year and stay on track with her goals.

“My homeroom teacher would call me every month—he knew I could finish and knew I could do it,” Maddy said of her FLVS homeroom teacher, Mr. Cangelosi. “I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself so it was nice to have someone in my corner and who could encourage me and remind me of what I could do.”

Path to Her Passions

With the finish line always in focus and lots of support and understanding from her FLVS teachers, Maddy graduated from FLVS Full Time high school this month. She’s also head to the University of South Florida this fall—after being accepted to almost every public college in the state—to pursue a degree and career in the medical field.

“At FLVS they enrolled me in Anatomy and Physiology and I learned that was something I loved and could really do… and having my daughter was magical. I would love to support other women through their journey to motherhood.”

Despite a challenging adolescence, Maddy is confident she’s prepared to take on college and a career. “With FLVS, I had to actually take notes and really take my time. You have to be detailed oriented, take notes and really have an understanding of the material. It definitely prepares you for college.”

It’s a confidence that also fuels her optimism for the future.

“I’m really looking forward to making new friends in college and continuing to learn. I’ve had to depend on a lot of unreliable adults in my life. So, I’m most excited to start working towards independence, a career, and building a foundation for my daughter.”

Congratulations, FLVS Class of 2021! 
View the full ceremony recognizing our graduates at https://www.flvs.net/classof2021.

Florida Virtual SchoolFlorida Virtual School (FLVS) has been leading the way in Kindergarten-12 online education for 25 years. FLVS provides a robust, award-winning curriculum to public, private, charter, and homeschool families and school districts nationwide. Learn more at flvs.net.

10 comments on “FLVS Graduate Pursues Her Dreams Amid Adversity

  1. Maritza

    My son struggled a lot in school due to his disability of bipolar 2, ADHD n seizures and going to dr missed some school was not getting help neeed so before he started 9th grade i did my research found this school since then teachers never gave up on him not even not even his math teacher gave him an extension so he could finish he was frustrated but did it n graduated in honor of his grandpa who pushed him sadly he passed away he never gave up now he is in college taking culinary arts i am a proud mom.

  2. Abigail

    This is an absolutely incredible success story. You should be so proud of yourself for all of your hard work.

  3. Amy Duke

    Congratulations Maddy ! You are an inspiration and I know your daughter will be so proud of her mom. Don’t give up on your dreams. God Bless You!

  4. Maria

    Maritza, I am very happy because your son has been able to get ahead in his studies and now he is developing his knowledge and skills even more. With the support of FLVS with caring and dedicated teachers, and his family it was possible. Thank you for sharing your life story with us. I also have a son with epilepsy, who suffered from sudden silent seizures in the previous school, and who did not have support and understanding of his illness, I also suffered a lot as a mother but he suffered more, now everything is better, I’m a grateful mother with FLVS, this school it has brought peace to my son and he like the school now. Thanks to all those who are part of FLVS, they all do a great job helping many children with different situations to not give up and believe in them. I have heard how kind the instructors are to my son all the time, and that has given him confidence that he can achieve his studies and for that, he does well in his classes.

  5. Maria

    Maddy continues to pursue your dream, you will achieve your career so you will have financial stability, which is important for you.
    Congratulations on graduating from FLVS high school despite so many difficulties in your past. Now celebrate your opportunity to have a career.


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