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Student Success Story

Submitted By: Cathy Balach, Napa Valley Adult Education Consortium
Consortium: Napa Valley Adult Education Consortium

Meet Iridian

Program Area(s): Adult Basic & Secondary Education

The Challenge

As a sophomore in high school, Iridian was forced to drop out of school and move to Mexico to care for her mother, who was sick with cancer. After returning to Napa County, she desired to complete her diploma, but the barriers were steep. She gave birth to a daughter, and the demands and pressures of being a teen mom prevented her from completing her diploma for a couple of years, which greatly limited her future options.

Adding to the challenge was her residency in the remote town of Angwin. She had already enrolled at Napa Valley Adult Education (NVAE) once and was unable to complete the program the first time around with the obstacles of caring for her child and the distance she needed to travel to complete her diploma.

The Solution

A counselor and teachers helped Iridian plan the next steps to complete her high school diploma. This included providing the support and flexibility she required, such as the ability to work at home on APEX when she could not find a babysitter.

For career planning, Iridian was referred to the NVAE Student Success Center. The Student Success Center exists to help students create their education and career plans and to provide the individualized support they need to be successful. Overcoming the challenges of applying to college and working out the financial issues was especially crucial for Iridian.

Napa Valley College provided the viticulture career programming, with the flexibility and support to help Iridian succeed.


Iridian re-enrolled at Napa Valley Adult Education in fall 2015 and completed her high school diploma in February 2017.

Next step, career. With the help of the NVAE Student Success Center, Iridian was able to complete both the Napa Valley College application as well as the FAFSA application, and she applied to - and was awarded - a Gasser Foundation scholarship. Within a month she started at the college and is currently taking nine credits.

Today, with the continued career counseling support by Napa Valley College, Iridian is well on her way to complete a certificate in viticulture, and in addition to her studies, she works on call at a winery in St. Helena.