A school dropout benefits from personalized learning, earning a degree in criminal justice

“My home life wasn’t that great. When I was nine, I started living with friends and family. I dropped out of school three months into 8th grade and never attended high school. I was pregnant at fifteen and had three children by the time I was nineteen,” Carisa Lovorn confided.

Without a high school diploma, Carisa was only able to find work in the retail industry. “It was so hard, and the hours weren’t manageable,” she explained. “You had to work holidays and weekends.”

So Carisa decided to take the GED® test. “When I took my GED, I was able to pass it without any prep classes, and that really shocked me,” she said.

As her children grew, Carisa discovered that she wasn’t able to help them with their homework. “I didn’t even know half the stuff they were talking about,” she explained. “And I thought, ‘this is insane.’ I always wanted to be a lawyer, and even though it was really intimidating because I hadn’t been in school for so long, I decided to go to a community college.”

Carisa enrolled in Red Rocks Community College in Colorado in 2011. One of the first classes she took was a face-to-face developmental math course. “It was really hard for me because the professor went so quickly that I didn’t catch it all,” Carisa recalled. “I missed all of high school, so I didn’t really have anything to relate to or to refresh. I was lost the whole semester and ended up having to withdraw because I was struggling so much in that class.”

Carisa eventually passed the course and decided to take the next course, Quantitative Literacy, online because she had heard good things about the online math help provided by MyMathLab®. MyMathLab personalized learning for her, helping her master the content.

“I was able to go at the pace that I needed,” Carisa explained. “When I used the ‘help me solve this’ feature, it was very beneficial because I could see what was going on and it would explain each step. I could take the time to understand how the program solved the problem instead of just looking at the problem on the board and hoping to pick it up quickly.”

“And after you get done with one problem, the program gives you a new problem and lets you try and do it by yourself.  After a couple of times, it shows you different ways to solve the problem. So if you didn’t understand one format, it would show you another format or explain it differently.”

MyMathLab explains different ways to solve a problem, and that was really beneficial for me.


Carisa Lovorn 2 300x300Personalized learning helped Carisa do well in the class and develop her self-esteem. “During the first couple of semesters, I cried my way through every assignment because I was afraid I was doing it wrong. Now I’m not as intimidated, and I am more confident in myself.”

Carisa earned an associate of arts in criminal justice in May 2016 and will be continuing her studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, this fall. She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree and then move on to law school. After passing the bar, she wants to work with troubled youth to show them that they have options and to prove that someone cares about their future.