New mother determined to succeed

Image of a pregnant Kayanna next to a photo of her new baby

When Kayanna Branch applied for Odyssey’s Class of 2022, she knew her baby (named Summer) was due on September 17, just two weeks after the course began.

“I’ll do my homework, join Zoom for a couple of classes and make sure I finish the class!” Kayanna assured Emily and Kevin during her interview. Baby Summer arrived a week earlier than expected, but Kayanna proved her determination by emailing her homework and joining the class online.

Summer holds the record as the youngest Odyssey Junior participant, as Kayanna enrolled her in the enrichment program while she was still in utero. So far, Summer and her big sister have received new books and toys, while Kayanna wows her classmates and teachers with her strength to stay caught up in class.

Kayanna with her daughter, both dressed up for an eventKayanna writes with pride about becoming the first member of her family to graduate from high school as well as the first to enroll in college. She notes of her daughters, “I want to set a good example for them, make them proud and prepare for a better future. I want to be able to give them the life I didn’t have. I can’t wait for Odyssey to change my life for the better.”

Kayanna says she fights through her fatigue to get her homework completed and turned in.

“My motivation to complete my homework is my kids. I know that if I show them I can make something out of this life, then they will have the same drive. They will see me giving Odyssey my all. I’m creating a future for my kids and those around me.”

As a new member of Odyssey Junior, baby Summer has already received two gift bags of toys and board books. Big sister Kayden eagerly opened bags of books, art supplies, magnetic letters, puzzles and other educational toys.

Karen holding up gift bags in front of Bucky Badger cardboard cutout and Odyssey signageOdyssey Junior remains online or outside only this semester due to safety concerns for unvaccinated children, but monthly deliveries bring joy to families.

“We have a record number of children in Odyssey Junior this year,” notes Odyssey Junior Director Karen Dreyfuss. “They range in age from Kayanna’s newborn to a high school senior we presented with a laptop and are working with as he applies to college.”

Many Odyssey parents point to their children as the reason they want to continue their own education.

Ontario posing with his three childrenOntario writes, “Odyssey can open many doors. The staff really love the students and become family. They will go above and beyond to help. I never could imagine me attending the UW, let alone just taking a course that is so much more; it’s something my kids will see and open their eyes about college. With them being enrolled in Odyssey Junior, they will learn things I cannot teach.”

Look for a link to the first Odyssey Junior Oracle of the year in our November newsletter, which features the art, writing and photos of the 60 children in our program. Meanwhile, will you please help fill Odyssey Junior bags with books, art supplies and educational toys by donating below?

Donate to Friends of Odyssey Family Fund