Online schooling gives young New Albany mom chance to earn diploma

Alysia Armstrong and her songs Ezra, left, brother Aziya take a selfie

Eric Walden, Kokomo Tribune

NEW ALBANY — Alysia Armstrong has already beaten her two siblings to parenthood. The 20-year-old mother of two first became a mother when she was just 17 years old. Now she’s trying to beat them to something else – a college degree.

Armstrong recently earned her high school diploma despite two pregnancies, one being high risk, through an online charter school — couples with her own determination.

With an an entirely online curriculum and a go-at-your-own-pace instruction, Insight School of Indiana gave Armstrong the chance to earn a high school diploma on her own time.

Armstrong admits that she hadn’t been a “good” student since about the ninth grade. Drinking, going out and boys were more important to her than going to school and maintaining good grades.

All that changed when Armstrong found out she was pregnant at 17. Symptoms such as fatigue, sore breasts and cravings for fried bologna and pizza rolls dipped in ketchup led her to take a pregnancy test.

She bought the test at a nearby Dollar General and took it at her best friend’s house.

“It slowly started turning pink and I just thought “oh my God, here we go,’” she said.

She dropped out of high school and gave birth to her first son, Ezra Sequillo Covin, in January 2015 at then-Floyd Memorial Hospital, now Baptist Health Floyd.

“That’s the worst mistake I could have made as a mom,” Armstrong said, looking back on her decision to drop out. So she decided to complete her education through enrolling in an online high school program.

“As soon the computer came in I finished a whole class in one day. I was really determined,” she said.

While working her way through her courses, Armstrong became pregnant with her second son, Aziya Hayden Sequillo Coven. A high-risk pregnancy and a toddler didn’t make it easy for her to finish her schooling, but rather than giving up, she kept working toward her diploma. Aziya made his appearance in February and Armstrong finalized her coursework just three months later.

“How could I expect my boys to go to finish school if I didn’t?” she said.

She persisted and when she found out she was just one biology class away from graduating, buckled down and finished that last class in just three days.

“When I finally finished that last test, it felt like no one could stop me. Even though it took so long for me, I felt like I had just conquered something… it was a huge step. I feel like I have the world in my hands now,” Armstrong said.

Now that she’s earned her diploma, Armstrong has her sights set on a new goal — an associate’s degree in early childhood education. She starts classes Monday at Post University, another internet-based education program perfect for the busy mom of two.

She hopes to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother and aunt and work with children through FirstSteps.

Before Ezra and Aziya, Armstrong had dreams of joining the Peace Corps and traveling the world, but looking back, she believes without her sons, she wouldn’t ever have gotten her diploma.

“I matured so much after Ezra was born… they really changed me,” she said.

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