LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A one-of-a-kind school in Kentucky opened a few months ago that's giving adults a second chance at getting a high school diploma. 

The Excel Center's mission is to use education to help people achieve their goals, but when you step into the classrooms you won't find typical high school students filling the seats.

Shaquita McNeal is one of those students. She decided to continue her education a decade after she didn't graduate high school. 

"I thought it would be so hard because I haven't been in school in over 10 years," McNeal said.

McNeal, a mom, had to drop out of school to work. "I had to work at a young age to provide and I just wasn't able to finish school because of course bills kind of trumps everything else."

Now McNeal is one of the first students at Kentucky's only high school for adults. 

"At first I was like, that's no way I can do this. But once you start, it's hard to quit," McNeal said. 

The Excel Center in Louisville offers flexible scheduling in 8-week terms year-round.

The Excel Center also provides extra support for students like McNeal. "If it wasn't for the daycare, or the life coach that I get here, I probably would not be here now,"  she said. 

McNeal is one of about a hundred students working toward a brighter future. 

"I'm actually really excited," said Miya Boswell, another student.

Boswell says she has tried GED programs in the past, but says the extra support and hands-on teaching offered at the Excel Center make all the difference. "This is one of the best opportunities I've ever had,"  she said. 

Aside from earning their diplomas, counselors at the school offer students opportunities to get different certifications and explore various career opportunities.

Boswell is considering social work.

"I like to help people," Boswell said. "And then being here watching them do what I love it's like, yeah, now I want to do it." 

Miya Boswell at Louisville Goodwill Excel Center

Pictured: in this image dated Dec. 23, 2022, Miya Boswell, a student at the Goodwill Excel Center on Preston Highway in Louisville, Ky., stands near an inspirational message. The tuition-free program offers students the opportunity to earn their high school diploma. 

She has a message for others who have dropped out: "I want them to understand that just don't stop once you drop out of high school, you can always continue with education. Like you know don't give up."

Both McNeal and Boswell can't wait to wear their cap and gown during upcoming graduation ceremonies. 

"Now I get to do what I -- like I said I've never got to do -- which is to walk across the stage," Boswell said. 

McNeal says she plans "to act like I'm just graduated from high school and enjoy the opportunity I never got to enjoy." 

Shaquita McNeal at Goodwill Excel Center

In this image dated Dec. 23, 2022, Shaquita McNeal, a student at the Goodwill Excel Center in Louisville, Ky., seen in front of an inspirational message. She is attending classes at the center to earn her high school diploma. (WDRB photo)

The Excel Center is enrolling for its next term, which starts in February. Anyone 18 or older without a high school diploma can apply. CLICK HERE for more information on how to enroll. 

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