where there's a will
Dafani Peralta is leading by example, showing her children the importance of making education a priority.
Peralta, 28, became pregnant with her first child at 15, and because she didn't have support at home, dropped out of high school. The Paterson, New Jersey, resident always wanted to earn her diploma, but encountered obstacle after obstacle — sometimes she didn't have child care, or she couldn't always afford to take the bus.
After the pandemic hit, Peralta — now married and a mom of six — realized this gave her the opportunity to earn her high school equivalency diploma from home, where she wouldn't need to worry about day care or transportation. Her sister-in-law offered to watch the kids while she studied, and Peralta told Good Morning America, "I took it seriously because I thought this was the opportunity of my life. I thought I'm not going to take it for granted."
She impressed her teachers at the Paterson Adult & Continuing Education (P.A.C.E.) program, cramming in three months of learning in just 30 days. "I noticed the more work I gave her, the more effort she put into it," teacher Vilma Carranza told GMA. "She really put her mind and her heart into what she was doing." Peralta graduated in July, and is now looking into online college courses. The most important thing to her is that her kids are able to "see what their minds can do," Peralta said.