04.26.2018

Quannah Finds Her Way in Senior Class of 3 Students

By Trent Freeman, Treehouse Marketing and Communications

As a freshman at Eisenhower High School in Yakima, Quannah was one of 2,000 students. She had just entered foster care and struggled with her grades. Her sophomore year, she moved to Thorp which had only 10 students. When she graduated in June, her class size was down to three students.

Moving from such a large school to a tiny one proved to be a good transition for her.

“At first it was weird, but I got used to it and it felt really comfortable,” said Quannah, 18.

She would go on to serve as student body president—something she says she never would have tried at her old school.

“I was really shy. To get out of my shell, that’s what I decided to do,” Quannah said. “It was such a good experience.”

Now a freshman living on campus at Central Washington University, she plans to major in law and criminal justice. A huge fan of the series “Law & Order,” her goal is to become a police officer and eventually a homicide detective.

“I think it will be scary, just the thought that I could get hurt on the job, but it’s worth it,” Quannah said. “My family has never liked cops, and I want to change their perspective about cops—that they’re not bad. And I want to be able to help people because when I was younger, it was hard for me to get help.”

Quannah appreciates her foster mom as a supportive addition to her life. She thanked her in the speech she gave at graduation as the class president.

Another positive influence has been Treehouse’s Glenda Vargas. The Senior Educational Advocate has been a steady, encouraging presence the past three years. Glenda worked with Quannah to put a plan in place to make up the missing credits caused by her initial rocky start to high school.

“Many kids would not have had the same wonderful determination that Quannah had,” Glenda said. “It was really hard work. She was very willing to go above and beyond to get everything done.”

Beaming with pride, Glenda stressed the importance of Quannah being the first person in her biological family with a diploma. She has two brothers and two half-sisters. None of her siblings and neither of her parents graduated from high school.

Treehouse’s Educational Advocacy program works with schools, social workers, foster families and youth in foster care to remove barriers to school success for Washington state students not served by our Graduation Success program.

“She helps me out, and she came to my graduation, which is pretty cool,” Quannah said of Glenda.

There were about 40 people at the ceremony as Quannah delivered an impassioned speech about her journey during the past four years.

“It was a lot of fun. After I finished speaking, I felt really good,” she said. “To get my diploma—on time—after struggling my freshman year, that was important to me and my future.”

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About the Author

Trent Freeman is the Associate Director of Marketing & Communications at Treehouse.


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