Friday, May 22, 2015

Graduates Take First Step toward College

For some people, making the transition from high school to college student is just one seamless step in a prescribed path to adulthood. Many others, however, encounter hardship and obstacles along that same path. For those who persevere, the reward is even more meaningful.

Rio Salado College celebrated the accomplishments of these go-getters at its annual High School Equivalency (HSE) graduation ceremony on Thursday evening, May 21 at Orangewood Nazarene Church, in Phoenix.

There where approximately 50 graduates in attendance, representing more than 100 students who successfully completed the college’s HSE prep classes and passed the state’s HSE exam (also referred to as the GED® test).

Tera Gomez, the HSE graduation student speaker, is a perfect example of how each person takes a different road to reach their destination.

In her 30 years, Gomez has already dealt with a lifetime of adversity. She has faced a childhood spent in hospitals, the death of her mother from a brain tumor, a marriage and divorce, the births of her three children, the loss of a home, and the deaths of her beloved grandparents on the same day.

“I decided to go back to school when my family hit financial hardships,” Gomez said.

Working retail and temporary positions since she was 19, Gomez was passed over for promotions at work because she did not have a high school diploma. She reached out to Rio Salado to take high school equivalency prep classes.

“I was terrified to return to school after being out of the classroom for almost 15 years,” Gomez said. “But the program at Rio Salado took away all of the scary parts and made it a very comfortable experience.”

She specifically cites the personal attention and dedication of Rio Salado College staff.

“I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today without the tutelage of my fantastic math teacher, who is one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met, and the guidance of my college counselor, who was always there to hold me up when I felt weak,” said Gomez.

Gomez plans to pursue college in the near future, after her family is more stable financially.

“Once you put your mind to a goal, do whatever you have to do to get there,” she said. “Put your nose to the books and put in the hours necessary to learn, and you'll get there.”

Visit this web page for details about Rio Salado's HSE Prep program.

Photo 1: HSE Grads lineup for processional
Photo 2: HSE Graduation ceremony begins

Photo 3: Gomez with Rio Salado Director of Community Partnerships College Bridge Pathways Lily Beth Brazones
Photo 4: Gomez with Rio Salado Counselor Amberly Lebeck-Brown

By Mira Radovich, Communications Coordinator at Rio Salado College.