It’s taken 57 years but Drusilla Chilton, 93, will finally see her son David, 73, receive his high school diploma.
Tuesday night, Chilton along with more than 300 students will receive their GED’s (high school equivalency diploma) from Rio Salado College. The graduation celebration, the biggest GED ceremony in the state, will be held at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix.
It’s been a long road for Chilton. The son of a traveling minister, Chilton was always changing schools as his family traveled from town to town. After graduating from the 8th grade, Chilton left school and began working for Western Union delivering telegrams on his bicycle.
“I dreamed for years of going back to school. It was always haunting me,” said Chilton.
But facing a 21st century classroom after more than five decades away was a daunting task.
“The first day of school I was really nervous. They gave me an evaluation test that I got half through. I left in my car and cried all the way home,” said Chilton.
Chilton spent 18 months working four or five hours a day in class.
“I didn’t realize how long it would take me or how difficult it would be,” said Chilton.
Chilton admits the well-earned slip of paper has made a big difference in his life including boosting his self-confidence enough to tackle college classes at Gateway where he has earned a caregiver certificate. Currently he’s in the process of finding a job with his newly found skills.
“I am really happy I did it,” said Chilton.
A boost in self-confidence is typical of those earning their GED, said Miranda L. Lopez, Director of Adult Education.
They get so much confidence out of this. It motivates them and makes them think Oh yes, I can do this,” said Lopez.
Students are told the program is the first step in their educational future. Along with learning to read and do math, GED students, through the transition program, receive information and awareness for those who want to continue their education. Information on college degrees, classes, financial aid and tours of the college campus are included in the transition program workshops.
While many students continue on into college from the program others taking GED classes focus on improving their workforce skills and still others use the classes to improve career prospects, said Lopez.
Classes are self-paced. Instructors work with students to identify their individual learning goals and to develop plans to reach those goals.
Rio Salado began offering GED classes in 1979 with just 700 students. Today, as the state’s largest provider of Adult Basic Education classes nearly 10,000 students are enrolled annually. For more information about free GED or ABE classes call (480) 517-8110 or (480) 377-4050 or visit www.riosalado.edu/registration
Locations for ABE enrollment:
Rio East Valley: 1455 South Stapley Drive, Suite 15Mesa, AZ 85204(just north of the Superstition Freeway)
Rio North - Paradise Valley: 4550 East Cactus RoadPhoenix, AZ 85032(above the food court at Paradise Valley Mall)
Rio 7th Avenue: 619 North 7th AvenuePhoenix, AZ 85007(just south of I-10)
Scottsdale Adult Learning Center: 1170 North 86th WayScottsdale, AZ 85257(old Apache Park School)
Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center12535 Smokey DriveSurprise, AZ 85374(just south of Bell Road)
Orangewood Nazarene Church: 2804 W. Orangewood
Phoenix AZ 85051
Rio Ann Ott Learning Center
1801 S. 12th Street
(south of Mojave, at Apache and 12th St)