E d e l l   H o w a r d

Edell is currently an X-Cel Education employee and a 2006 college prep graduate. Edell works with X-Cel part-time and also works with the Dimock Center as a High School Equivalency Instructor. He has had a roller coaster of a journey since graduating from high school many years ago.

As a high school student, I really wasn't pleased with the idea of getting up and going to school every day. I didn't understand the purpose. The first two years of school were great; however, upon entering the eleventh grade, my life turned in a different direction. I began to hang out with the wrong crowd, started smoking, and began to miss classes. By my senior year, not going to school became the norm. Halfway through my senior year I found out that I was going to be a father to not one but two children. I decided I had to quit school to find a job full time.

Eventually, I hit rock bottom and was incarcerated. When I got out, I knew I had to change my life.

After 6 months of working, I realized I had to get my high school diploma, and with some help from my mother, I was able to convince the principal to allow me back. I began getting to school early and leaving late, yet my guidance counselor still told me, "you should just quit school and join the Army. School is just not for you." Her saying that gave me motivation. I wanted to prove her wrong. I worked hard enough that I was signed out by all of my teachers an hour before graduation.

I moved on to Roxbury Community College (RCC) and all was well until they dropped the Athletic Program. After that, school was no longer fun. It was at that school that I met a dealer, and I began to sell drugs and soon became my own customer. For the next 15 years I lived destructively, selling and using drugs, feeling my life fall apart but I couldn't stop it. Eventually, I hit rock bottom and was incarcerated. When I got out, I knew I had to change my life. In January of 2006, I enrolled in the Strive program, which is where I met Don Sands. Don taught the education portion of the Strive program and told me about his X-Cel College Prep program. I had already taken some college classes and decided that X-Cel's College Prep program was the right fit for me.

When I finished college prep, I re-enrolled in RCC. During my time at RCC, Don asked me to volunteer with X-Cel, which I did, and in 2007, Don hired me part time. In 2008, I graduated from RCC with an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts and immediately enrolled in classes at UMass Boston. I began working full time for College Bound Dorchester, along with working for X-Cel and taking classes at UMass. In May of 2013, all my hard work paid off, and I walked across the stage, getting my Bachelor's Degree in Business Management.

How did X-Cel help you get back on track?

X-Cel gave me the support system, the training and the knowledge I needed for college and for my career. I've been with X-Cel since 2007. When I started volunteering I learned how to teach and realized I could relate to a lot of people. Now, I can help them through the challenges that I have already overcome.

Do you have any advice for a current or prospective student?

Work hard. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. I've been in school, and I've been on the streets. I went back to school when the odds were stacked against me. Surround yourself with positive people and you can do anything.