For the 43 students participating in the Adult Education Recognition Ceremony Thursday, it was a celebration they missed out on in high school.
The graduates represent just a portion of the 814 students who earned a GED at Chattahoochee Technical College’s numerous testing centers.
“Many of us worked in jobs with employers who had the mercy to hire us,” said graduate Clarisse Henderson Morris of Euharlee. “Then they had to fire us or lay us off because we did not have that high school diploma.”
Thursday night’s ceremony included three graduates who were selected by the program’s instructors and administrators to tell their own story about their journey. Speakers featured in this year’s ceremony include Clarisse Henderson Morris of Euharlee, James Gordon Sears of Kennesaw and Gidgetta Wilcher of Kennesaw.
Morris enrolled in the program at Summer Hill in Cartersville in December 2008 on a dare from her son. She recently called that dare by passing the GED with excellent scores after 40 years of wanting it to happen.
“I’ve tried to do this two other times,” Morris said. “This time I did it.”
Sears enrolled in the Chattahoochee Technical College Adult Education program in August of 2011. After intensive studies, he received his GED credential in December of 2011. A native of New Jersey, Sears was home schooled but moved before he could earn his diploma.
“I didn’t know anybody here when I moved to Georgia,” he said. “But I accomplished so much. I earned my driver’s license. I earned my GED and met some great people. What made the program for me was the people.”
Wilcher represented Chattahoochee Technical College at the statewide EAGLE Leadership Institute in Atlanta this year. One math credit kept her from obtaining her high school diploma. For 22 years this unaccomplished goal weighed on her mind. In April of 2010, her job of 12 years was eliminated, and she decided it was time to get her GED. Six months later, she had it.
“My instructor said to me,” Wilcher told the crowd, “You can lose your job, your finances, or even a loved one, but you can never lose your education.”
Throughout the U.S., two out of every three adults who take the GED test report their reason for doing so is to qualify for further training and education beyond the high school level. All three of the speakers selected for the ceremony at the North Metro Campus have declared their intention to continue with their education.
Sears and Wilcher have already enrolled at Chattahoochee Technical College. Currently Sears is pursuing his education in hopes of becoming at broadcaster, while Wilcher enrolled in the Healthcare Assistant program with hopes of becoming a nurse. Morris is studying for her college entrance exam and is considering Chattahoochee Technical College as a way to prepare for a degree in child psychology.
Without a high school or GED diploma a person will earn on average $7,658 less a year than someone with a secondary education credential. That number along with statistics of higher chances of arrest and jail time, poorer health, more troubled finances and lower self-esteem are all reasons that people turn to Chattahoochee Technical College for help to pass the General Educational Development test.
“With an estimated 1.24 million adults in our state who are without a high school or GED diploma, it is easy to forget those that have worked hard to pass the tests and now are better for it,” said Jon Collins, executive director of adult education at Chattahoochee Technical College. “But each of these students is a success story and this is our chance to celebrate these accomplishments.”
The GED test provides adults at least 16 years of age who are beyond the age of compulsory high school attendance under state law with an opportunity to earn a high school equivalency diploma. In order to pass the GED test, a student must pass a series of five tests in writing skills, social studies, science, interpreting literature and arts, and mathematics.
Successfully passing these sections demonstrates that the student has acquired a level of learning that is comparable to that of high school graduates. Tests are scored from 200 to 800 points. A minimum standard score of 410 is necessary to pass each individual exam, and an average standard score of 450 is required to pass the full battery.
“Taking the GED preparation classes greatly increases the student’s chances of passing the test over those who just ‘walk in,’” said Collins. “The hardest part of the whole process isn’t the math or the other subjects. It’s not the tests or the classes. It’s walking through that door for the first time or making a call about the next step.”