Forty-year-old Teresa Williams had to grow up early in life. Now, armed with a wealth of experience, she wants to help others by becoming a motivational speaker and life coach. Williams enrolled in Beacon Hill Career High School (BHCHS) in November of 2012 in order to acquire the high school diploma that had eluded her during her youth in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She is also earning a credentialed career certificate as part of this innovative program that focuses on graduating students prepared for employment in a number of sectors.

BHCHS is offered through Weston Distance Learning in partnership with Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE). Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, Weston Distance Learning is one of the largest distance learning education institutions in the nation. The company serves tens of thousands of students through its four online divisions—BHCHS, At-Home Professions, U.S. Career Institute, and McKinley College.

Based in Pensacola, Florida, SHCOE is the world’s first AdvancED/SACS-accredited online school district, offering a leading-edge online curriculum that enables students to earn an 18-credit high school diploma and a credentialed career certificate in one comprehensive program.

Williams, who currently lives in Buffalo, New York, had to leave school in the seventh grade when she became pregnant with her first child. Now, a single parent of five children ranging in age from 11 to 27, she still finds time to run her own business, write and sing Gospel music, and keep up with her online schoolwork at BHCHS.

“Back in the day, I had to drop out of school to become a mom. I grew up early,” Williams said. “It was a trying time. Getting my education today is part of my learning how to embrace what’s good for me. It’s time to do things for me. I’ve got two 11-year-olds in the house right now who also go to school and they help keep me motivated.”

Williams admitted to some “rust” from almost three decades away from the education system. She said the lesson dealing with computer basics—while difficult—helped her bridge those three decades by teaching her essential computer skills that she immediately put to use both inside and outside of the classroom.

She said one of the great features of BHCHS is its 24/7 availability, which enables students to fit their education into their busy schedules. “I’m going on vacation in April and I’ll still be able to do my schoolwork because Beacon Hill can go on vacation with me,” Williams said. “My goal is to complete all of my courses by September. I would love to go to college. My older children are in college and I plan to show them that I can do it, too.”

Williams gives her strongest endorsement to BHCHS.

“I would recommend it to anyone to who is committed to bettering his or her life,” she said.