Monday, May 2, 2011

General Education Degrees (GEDs) Empower Students

When nearly 200 graduates walk across the stage at Rio Salado's GED graduation, they will walk away with more than a diploma. They will take with them a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and the successful completion of a life goal.

"Receiving a GED has a tremendous impact on the lives of our graduates, said Lilybeth Brazones, adult basic education program director for Rio Salado College. "They will have choices in terms of education, to get a job or to add to their skills in their current job."

The graduates come from a variety of circumstances. Many GED graduates work full-time and take care of families. They range in age from young to old. Each graduate has overcome challenges unique to them and each graduate has their own story of triumph to share.

"I had to do something with myself for my life and for my kids, because I am concerned for their future," said GED graduate Jessica Hutton. "Getting my GED brings a lot of accomplishment. I am doing something good for my children. I don't want them growing up without an education."

Hutton, 23, has four young children, works as a fast-food restaurant manager and cares for her husband who has been battling leukemia.

"Our graduates don't give up even after dealing with life's adversities and challenges that they meet as they strive to achieve their GED diploma," said Brazones. "They have had to overcome personal challenges to finish their classes and have a lot of determination and willpower to achieve that goal."

Depending upon the background of the student, it can take as little as a month, or up to several years to complete the program and take the GED exam.

"Helping our GED students is challenging and very rewarding at the same time. Students need to improve their skills in reading, writing, science, social studies, and math in a relatively short amount of time," said Brazones. "The challenge for the instructor is to accurately determine the students' skills through our assessments, and make sure that the study plan for each student is appropriate for what they need to pass the GED exam. We also need to provide students with the additional resources and support that Rio Salado College offers so that they can transition to post-secondary education."

"It took me a year to complete my GED," said Hutton. "It was hard finding time for work, family and school."This year's graduation theme "New Horizons, New Beginnings" has special meaning for GED student graduation speaker Jean-Pierre Jordan.

"Getting my GED has made me feel like I can start all over again. I have gotten a second chance," said Jordan. "It has helped me focus and learn what it takes to have a career and made me realize that I love education and will continue on to college."

Jordan, 30, has plans to be a pharmacy technician and eventually a pharmacist.

Rio Salado's 2011 GED Graduation, a ticketed event, will take place at the Orpheum Theater May, 3. GED graduates for the 2010-2011 academic year total 457 with 205 participating in the ceremony. More than 10,000 students have received their GED preparation at Rio Salado since 1978 according to Brazones.

Rio Salado College offers GED preparation classes online and at seven Basic Adult Education locations throughout the Valley.

For more information about earning a GED, contact Rio Salado College.