Marchette, Jackie, and the 30 Year Quest

by Literacy Partners

Clock Icon 5 minute read

She swore to him up and down that she would get her high school diploma. She begged him to trust that she was making the right decision for her life. He finally withdrew, knowing that her word was strong; he should be supportive of her choice. Then suddenly, he was gone.

As a professional singer, Marchette had no time for studies. This was her dream: the thing she worked so hard to accomplish. There was no way she could turn down this opportunity, even if it meant giving up her chances at a high school diploma.

Thirty years and three failed attempts at the exam later, she was finally ready to seek the help she needed to fulfill the promise she made to her father so many years ago.

Marchette found not only Literacy Partners, but a new dream: she was going to attend college and gain a bachelor’s degree in Artist Management. But first, she needed to pass the high school equivalency exam. Her teachers gave her encouragement, intensive coaching in both mathematics and critical thinking, and of course, support.

“I cried like a newborn baby!” she said, almost tearing up with the memory. “I had passed!”

And then came an even bigger surprise. Long-time Literacy Partners supporter and former board member, Jackie Weld Drake, gave a speech at Marchette’s graduation.

“We live in a city where one in five New Yorkers is functionally illiterate–who cannot read a bedtime story to a child or fill out a job application. Offering the gift of reading to an adult who heretofore couldn’t read a subway map or write a letter, and especially to one who is ready to go to college, in honor of my late husband, Rodman L. Drake, gives me great pleasure.”

She then awarded not only Marchette, but all of the graduates in her class, a $1,000 scholarship. Marchette was going to college.

At the graduation ceremony, guest speaker New York City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, a leading voice for adult literacy, spoke of Marchette and her fellow graduates as “a tremendous inspiration. All of them worked tirelessly, and overcame significant educational barriers to reach this day.”

Thankfully, we don’t have to wonder how Marchette is doing since graduating from Literacy Partners: she lets us know! We received a wonderful e-mail recently, noting that she had earned the honor of Dean's List from Liberty University- where she is enrolled as a full-time student- for the Spring 2018 semester!

She beamed to us, “Literacy Partners is a very huge part of why I am where I am! This is a very big and important honor for me and I thank Literacy Partners for the encouragement and push I needed. I pray you all see me to the end of this chapter!”

We’re so proud of Marchette’s continued success, and are looking forward to the opening of her and her husband’s artist management business. We’re also thrilled to learn that she’s planning to write a book about her journey. Marchette, if you need someone to compose the forward, we’ll gladly gush about your achievements!

Related Reads