Kayla Mitchell has spent her entire life in Horseheads, but that's not where she plans to stay.
"Somewhere near a beach," Kayla says, when asked where she wants to live.
But to make her beach life a reality, Kayla knows it will take focus and commitment - something that hasn't always come easy.
Kayla grew up with a developmental disability. From her time at Gardner Road Elementary to her years at Horseheads High School, Kayla's ADHD affected her ability to concentrate. Subjects like math and English were particularly difficult.
Kayla was determined not to let her developmental disability define her, and she navigated obstacles with the support of her family and help from understanding teachers. Then, in 2013, Kayla began working with AIM.
Kayla has been involved in many AIM programs, including peer groups, social-skills trainings, work-based experiences in the community, and volunteering for AIM events.
Through AIM's community-work program, Kayla was able to secure a volunteer position at the YMCA daycare. It was there that she first discovered her passion for working with children. At the same time, Kayla was also completing a BOCES internship for early childhood studies.
Upon her graduation, Kayla followed her dreams and enrolled into the childcare program at Corning Community College.
Currently in her first year, second semester, Kayla reflected on her first semester.
"It was hard," she said. "I didn't like it at first."
Having worked hard to gain acceptance into college, Kayla found that she had to prove herself in the remedial coursework before moving on to college work.
"With the college supports from AIM's transition program, Kayla was able to push forward and stay focused on her objectives," said Kayla's caseworker, Becky Gilbert.
When asked about Kayla's future, Becky said the sky's the limit.
"Kayla had the fortitude to stay focused on her goals," Becky said. "And to accept support to help her attain them only shows her strong abilities."