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

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Paula Dinh transferred to West Brooklyn Community High School in 2010, after spending two years at New Utrecht High School.

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.