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.