Lisa Murillo is no ordinary student. She is a mother, grandmother and General Education Development (GED) graduate of Rio Salado College and will be the student speaker at the college’s GED graduation on May 16.
Born in Los Angeles, Murillo was the youngest of three children. At the age of 14, she moved to Arizona with her mother when her parents divorced. By the time she was 16 years old, she had dropped out of high school to provide for herself when her mother returned to California. She survived by providing routine maintenance and cleaning for a tennis court.
Murillo said that she had always hoped to return to school but found it difficult due to her family responsibilities.
“I had always wanted my GED, it was something that I envisioned, but I had to work to keep a roof over my family’s head. I knew in time, I would fulfill my dream of walking in a cap and gown once my children were grown up. That time for me is now,” she said.
In conjunction with her GED classes Murillo has been taking dental assisting courses and plans to earn a certificate in dental assisting in July. She has been part of a grant funded program; Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (IBEST), which allows students to work toward their GED while at the same time, learn valuable skills for the workplace.
“The program is followed by a 200-hour internship in a dentist’s office,” said Rio Salado College Associate Dean of Adult Basic Education Blair Liddicoat. “It is a very rigorous program and we are happy to have one of its participants speaking at the GED Graduation.”
The IBEST program is an example of the college’s initiatives to provide students with college and occupational pathways that will lead to gainful employment in a chosen career path.
“Rio’s program which allowed me to complete my GED while also cementing a career in the Dental Assisting field seemed like a great way to start a new career,” said Murillo.
Murillo admits that returning to school has been a lot of work. “Going back to school as an adult learner requires creating new habits and breaking old ones. Take it from me, it takes focus and determination, but it can be accomplished with perseverance,” she said.
Murillo is proud of her accomplishments and plans to and plans continue on with her education to earn an associate degree in dental office management. “Starting a new career with the right education is a life changing experience. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made,” she said.
Published in the Tempe Republic Saturday, May 5, 2012.