How One Student Who 'Hates School' Finds Her Path to Graduation

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 04:00 AM

Paula Dinh, a student at West Brooklyn Community High School Paula Dinh transferred to West Brooklyn Community High School in 2010, after spending two years at New Utrecht High School. (Jennifer Hsu/WNYC)

If all goes well for the rest of the school year, Paula Dinh will graduate on June 26. That's one day after her 20th birthday, and six years after she first started high school.

"It’s time," she said. "I can’t afford to keep doing what I do."

When Dinh started ninth-grade, at New Utrecht High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, she regularly cut class and fell far behind in her coursework — habits that persisted when she transferred to West Brooklyn Community High School, one of the city's transfer schools for students who are over-age and behind in the coursework.

She had good stints of accumulating credits, but would fall back into her old patterns. At one point, she considered dropping out to earn a high school equivalency diploma.

Now, four years after starting at West Brooklyn, Paula has just two credits left to earn and one Regents exam to pass. Even with a lighter workload, she has been consistently late to school, putting her diploma in jeopardy.

As part of our series Educating on the Edge, we hear about Paula's up and down path to finishing high school.

The series is part of American Graduate, a public media initiative addressing the dropout crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


Comments [2]

francynepelchar from pelham bay park

Older children should take some responsibility for caring for younger sibs and for doing age-appropriate chores.

Apr. 15 2014 11:57 AM
Older sister

As an older daughter in a very large family, I identify with Paula's challenged childhood. Making a teenager (and in my case younger) be responsible for the care of her infant siblings is a form of child abuse. Sometimes parents in large families expect their older children to take on the responsibilities of adults, therefore depriving "responsible" children of their own childhood and forcing them into teen parenting. Not good for the teen and not good for the younger siblings she's responsible for. Thanks for your story Paula and good luck to you.

Apr. 15 2014 08:37 AM

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