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Harford County Graduations - The Aegis

Q&A: Overcoming brother’s death, Future Link valedictorian looks to future

The 12 students who completed Harford County Public Schools’ Future Link post-secondary program in 2022 were honored during a farewell celebration June 3 at Harford Community College.

Future Link is a two- to three-year program for young adults ages 18 to 21 who have special needs and have completed four to five years at a county public high school. Students who complete Future Link earn a Maryland High School Certificate of Program Completion.

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Kiera Daughtry, 21, of Havre de Grace, was one of the 12 students honored during the ceremony. She was Future Link’s valedictorian for the Class of 2022, recognized for completing the two-year program under personally challenging circumstances.

Daughtry’s brother died at age 32 from cancer in March and dealing with the loss of her brother weighed heavily on her studies.

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“Her brother’s death certainly put strain on her, but she and her family have a strong sense of faith and it is that plus the realization that she has a strong community of supporters at work and school that got her through the tough time,” said Christie Hall, special needs teacher for the Future Link program.

Despite the loss, Daughtry remained focused. She held down a full-time job as a cafeteria worker at John Archer School through Future Link’s work-based program and took classes in the afternoon when her shift ended.

Her diligence paid off. Daughtry was named Student Employee of the Year for Harford County. Daughtry looks back on her high school experience fondly and looks forward to the future.

Q: What were some challenges you faced as you headed towards graduation?

A: One challenge I faced was not knowing what the future held for me, or even if I was ready to venture out into society on my own. The biggest challenge was becoming an adult and learning how to do just that.

Q: How was your experience at Future Link?

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A: My experience at Future Link was very interesting, because they taught me important things. It has prepared me for the real world. Like, how to apply for jobs. I now know how to write a resume, fill out job applications, prepare for an interview and dress to impress. It has also taught me how to survive on my own. I am able to manage my money. Now I know how to use a debit card or money to pay for things and know how much to pay on taxes. I am so thankful for my teacher, job coaches and faculty, who have helped me get ready for the world.

Q: Who helped you the most during this journey?

A: There were many people who helped my journey. Three successful women really stand out: Ms. Christie Hall, Mrs. Sarah Kilian and Mrs. Kristen Hite.

Ms. Christie Hall was my teacher. She is the one who taught me everything, from being independent, how to pay bills, to how to fill out a job application. Mrs. Sarah Kilian helped me by helping me to get a job at John Archer working in the cafeteria. Miss Kristen Hite, who is my boss, is teaching me about food nutrition and food preparation. She even taught me how to be a better co-worker.

These three women played the most part of my journey. I learned a lot from them, and I am truly grateful for them being in my life. Of course, my parents and family played the biggest part. And, my boyfriend has always supported me.

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Q: What was your motivation to finish?

A: What motivated me was the fact that I knew that I wasn’t ready to go out in the world. If I didn’t go to Future Link, I wouldn’t have the knowledge and experience that I have now. Future Link has given me the opportunity to explore new things, meet new people, and make friendships along the way.

Q: How was your overall experience at Future Link?

A: Amazing! I have learned so much in my time with Future Link.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I am focusing on getting my driver’s license. After that, I want to get a GED, then go to college. I hope in two years to save enough money to get my own place.


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