Olivia Henriques came to Hall County as a senior in high school from Jamaica — only to be told she would have to repeat her high school work to that point.
“I had to start all over,” she said about attending Lanier Charter Career Academy.
Fast forward 2 1/2 years, and Olivia has completed four years of work in that period, will graduate May 25 and plans to study nursing at Lanier Technical College. She plans to be a midwife nurse.
Olivia, 19, has reached that point despite being “not really at ease with the whole culture thing.” She spoke English when she came here, but she admitted culture changes have been difficult to navigate. Everyday American phrases are still foreign to her.
But being in America has its perks, too.
“The opportunities are not as advanced (in Jamaica) as they are here,” Olivia said.
Olivia takes continuing education courses at Lanier Technical College.
“It is really, really awesome to go” to Lanier Tech, she said.
She said the courses are online and in class with a teacher.
“I love math — I’m not an English person — and science,” she said.
The courses offered at Lanier Tech are broader than what was available in Jamaica.
She also took cosmetology and health care at LCCA.
Because of more opportunity and better economic conditions, Olivia intends to stay in the U.S. after she finishes her nursing education.
One hurdle she may still overcome is learning to drive. She said she rides the school district’s buses.
“We do not have that back home, so I’m really, really grateful to have that,” she said.
“I thought it was the end of my life — to start all over again,” Olivia said. “It turned out great.”