Joy’s story is a tale of perseverance. She didn’t have control of her circumstances; her family was unstable and moved continuously throughout her high school career. In total, she attended six high schools! Her freshman year began at San Diego’s Mira Mesa High, then onto Helix High. An abrupt move landed her at Jefferson High in New York state, then back to San Diego High School, on to Oceanside High and then back to Helix High. Finally, after an entire year away from school, Joy touched down at Garfield Continuation School—located in Downtown San Diego.  Garfield serves as a last resort for many students, but not for Joy.  She was determined to graduate and finish what she started.

In the fall of 2014, Joy came to the studio for the first time with Garfield’s Music Club.  She was so nervous she was shaking.  After warm greetings from the DHF instructors, she began to settle into the studio surroundings.  She expressed her interest and passion for music shortly thereafter, but was shy because she had no previous experience and didn’t want her classmates to hear her sing.  As most of our students have very little musical education, the DHF staff was ready to assist Joy in her first sonic steps. Week after week Joy returned.  “The music and instructors kept me coming back to the studio,” Joy shared. The instructors kept her motivated to return to high school.

Equipped with a newly formed knowledge of the song writing process, Joy teamed up with two other students, Emily and Ricardo, to start her first song in the spring of 2015. The team of instructors walked them through each step with patience and confidence in the potential they possessed.  Joy and the other two students shared their stories and were eager to create a collaboration that would bring light to their similar life struggles.  There is no greater success in the eyes of our staff, than when a student develops the courage to fully tell their story and use their trial as inspiration rather than a crutch.  It is beautiful when the students realize their story can serve as a launching pad into a successful future.

After a semester of hard work in the studio, Joy and her team finish their song. The song they made was so much more than just lyrics or music. It was the completion of a project; motivation to finish high school. Music was Joy’s outlet. Our Student Studio became a safe haven for her. It was a place where she felt loved and encouraged to finish strong.

On the day she received her graduation letter, Joy brought her certificate to the studio and the whole DHF family celebrated her accomplishment…except Joy. She was distraught over news her family would soon be moving to North Carolina, this time without her.

We knew from that point our journey with Joy wasn’t over. Graduation was the first step, but we wanted to complete the due diligence and equip her with the life skills necessary to have a successful transition into the real world. Our team hand-crafted an internship for her, to assist her in building a professional resume, helping her find housing, as well as an array of resources that will translate to success for the rest of her life.

Joy has been a pleasure to work with and we see big things for her future; we can’t wait to launch her into the next season of her life as a new high school graduate. What is more exciting is that Joy can see her potential now as well. Her story is far from over and we are honored to be a part of it.

Congratulations Joy!