Stories from our recent GED® graduates
Graduation speech, June, 2015 by Dylan Mascitelli
Life is pretty crazy, right? You’re born into a carousel of expectations, hopes, and dreams, both generated by you and by the ones who love you the most. Sorting through the demographics of personal choice is quite a confusing and revealing endeavor.
Which ambitions are your own and which are the ones presented before you? To reject the seemingly endless bombardment of challenges completely or to embrace the obstacles as fragments of a stronger you, that need only to be grasped through persistence, effort, and confidence? Both offer the same result at the end of the day, experience and growth.
But what kind of experience do you wish to remember forever? Which direction do you wish to grow?
A tree barricaded by sunlight will entangle itself around its neighbors, desperately contorting and accommodating its living space; thus there is still growth taking place. But the tree is not growing “up” you see. Yet growth has still clearly taken place.
You can deny the necessary obstacles that life strategically places in front of you and you will still grow inevitably. But, like a tree starved for light, your growth will be everywhere but the direction nature intended. Your choice lies in which obstacles you label as relevant.
The labeling must come from the heart and a foundation of self-respect and love. It cannot come from needless want and instant gratification or else your growth will be stunted. These concepts exist as not just the plight of high school dropouts, but as the plight of the human being.
I have been homeless, lost, angry, and despondent. I have seen the intricate web of challenges, the formula that we ourselves must subconsciously call to in order to grow immensely.
I have seen the destruction brought on by fear, guilt, and ignorance. And only I was the one who brought it on myself, by rejecting the opportunities presented by an unconditionally supportive family. A ball of teenage angst wrapped inside of smoldering passion, yet with no direction, I was on the streets by choice because I thought that tackling hardship head on was the only way to personal authenticity.
School, to me, was the equivalent of artistic suffocation. I was ready to integrate into a future free of restriction and so I gave myself to hordes of, who I thought, were like minded individuals, friends even. And some of them were. But most were drifters like me and had given up on personal growth to the point where they weren’t even conscious of the desire to learn from life. They existed as props, connections to an endless array of distractions.
After pushing my body, mind, and soul to their limits in the unforgiving, unappeased city I called my home, I realized that this was not my home. I had given up a palace of infallible blessings for a grimy street corner, all the while pretending that it meant something.
Ignorance is not bliss
Stagnance is not comfort
Complacency is not an excuse
Education, in whatever form it comes packaged in, is truly a joy to unwrap. Individually and collectively we can rebuild the laughing stock that is the vast majority of modern teen culture.
We can replace narcissism with inquisition, insecurity with security, and ignorance with knowledge… but it starts one person at a time. And if we all strive to be the best unique individuals we can, the rest of the society will follow suit, for following suit is the nature of society.
The choice for personal expansion is up to you. I strongly encourage each and every one of you to heed this accomplishment as the major stepping stone that it is. The journey doesn’t have to stop here.
Merge your dreams with the challenges that seem to be blocking them. Don’t hold back.
Kimberly Thomas in WNC Woman - http://www.wncwoman.com/2014/04/05/literacy-council-of-buncombe-county-kimberly-thomas/
Stephen Smith in Asheville Citizen-Times – http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/2014/01/05/asheville-man-uplifts-others-after-prison-stint/4311225/
Lety Onate in VERVE Magazine – http://www.vervemag.com/september-2013/2013/9/2/there-are-no-excuses.html
GED® Success (by John Thornton)
Obtaining my GED was hard and speaking at the graduation was nerve racking. I was a thirty-year old with an eighth grade education when I started the program. I really could not see the whole picture of what I was actually accomplishing, that is, until I graduated.
I noticed its significance instantly, standing before five-hundred people, all seemingly very proud to be there. I probably spoke for twenty-five seconds out of the two minute speech I had initially planned on speaking, but what an exhilarating experience.
I couldn’t have seen myself doing anything like that if I didn’t have the faculty and staff support. Anytime I needed help with anything they were always there. They helped me jump start my life in the right direction. Now I can begin to help better the lives of loved ones around me. The respect and confidence I’ve gathered is not only evident in myself, it is also evident to the people closest to me.
This will be my third semester of my first year at A-B Tech, which is the beginning of the Honors Program I have been gladly accepted to. Surmounting that first step of receiving my diploma was a nice piece of a large abstract puzzle that’s going to take years to complete. The foundation that has been laid down through acquiring my GED is going to give me the determination to push further on, accomplishing any goals set in the future.
From GED® to Web Technologies (Rick Anderson)
From start to finish, getting my GED diploma took 22 days. One speed-bump in the road was having to re-TABE in Language Arts Writing. And waiting until I was eligible to re-TABE seemed like it took forever. Once that was complete, I was able to move forward with the testing to ultimately receiving my GED with a total score of 3300.
Also, I have received the Alternative Education Scholarship that A-B Tech offers to those who have gotten their GED within the past 12 months. Just in case there are people with questions about getting extra money towards their education here at A-B Tech.
During Summer I took 4 classes-CIS 110, ACA 115, DMA 020 and DMA 040. These classes to me were easy, especially ACA. If there is ever anyone getting their GED with the intention of enrolling into classes here at A-B Tech, I would recommend taking Lloyd Weinberg's ACA class. Enough with that, I finished summer with a 4.0 overall and passed both DMA classes with a 96 or higher.
This fall I am taking a total of 18 hours. Doing this will keep me on track to getting my A.A.S. in Web Technologies by May, 2015.
Graduation Speech, June, 2013 (Melissa Zacharchuk)
Congratulation graduates, WE DID IT!
I don’t know what it may have been like for anyone else to get to this night, but I want to share just a bit of my journey with you…
Sixteen years ago, before I dropped out of high school, I had become a terrible student. I wasn’t interested, I didn't have any real goals, I was academically checked out. So when I had a baby half way through my senior year, it only made sense in my mind to leave school and care for her.
It wasn’t until I watched from the bleachers as my class graduated that I first realized the significance of the choices that I had made. I immediately wished I had applied myself more. I tried to convince myself it didn’t matter, but every year it bothered me more and more. Then as my friends began to attend our high school reunions, I found it moderately offensive that I never got an invitation. Just because I didn’t graduate doesn’t mean I wasn’t there.
I soon noticed when I would do online job searches, all the desirable positions required a High School Diploma or equivalency. For some reason, this would always fill me with a sense of shame and dread.
In addition, if it ever came up in a conversation that I had dropped out of high school, I would feel embarrassed, especially if it was somebody new I was just meeting, or someone I held in high regard.
I attempted several times to study for the GED. I would begin, and then I would have another baby, and the GED would get pushed to the back burner. A bit later I would begin again, then I would switch jobs or I would begin and then I would encounter fractions; and truthfully, I was afraid of failure. I didn’t believe I was capable and looking back now, that is very sad.
So fast forward to last summer. My family and I had been living in Asheville a little over a year, I was waiting tables at my third restaurant since moving here. Some of the people I worked with were very, very unpleasant, and the business was not doing so well, it was just a real negative stressful situation. I didn’t really want to look for yet another job and honestly there weren’t as many opportunities out there as I had expected.
It was during this time I decided I would try again to get my GED and after that maybe I would take a 6 week certification class to file index cards or something. I never considered college an option; remember, I didn’t even think I could pass. I still believed myself to be the terrible high school student stuck on fractions. But with the help of the staff here at A-B Tech, I did pass. I’m especially grateful for Kim Litz who was always encouraging. She and Bryant were very patient with helping adults learn fraction and integers. (No easy feat)
It wasn’t until I got my scores, (and not only did I pass, but I did pretty well), that I began to entertain the idea of college. I applied for and was granted a scholarship. I am currently enrolled at A-B Tech and taking two summer classes. In the fall, I hope to add one more.
So if any of my story sounds familiar, please know the opportunity is available. Not necessarily for you graduates, you’ve already conquered this hurdle, but what I hope you’ll take away is that when you think you’ve reached the limits of your capabilities, keep pressing on…you may only be scratching the surface.
Better Late Than Never (Tim & Peggy Wurzer)
Peggy, who quit school in the 12th grade, is now 63-years-old. “My parents were so distraught!” she says, remembering back to when she left high school. While she had always planned to go back to school and finish up, the pressures of life kept preventing her from dedicating time and energy to her studies.
After marrying Tim and raising children together, she decided to finally begin the process of studying for the GED. Tim, who left school at the age of 16, decided to join her. They started off together at Blue Ridge Community College studying in reading, English language arts, social studies, and science.
Part-way through their studies, the Wurzer’s suddenly got custody of their great grandchildren, ages two and five. Shortly thereafter, they had to sell their home in Hendersonville and move to Asheville. The Wurzer’s knew that passing the GED was important to both of them, and they brought maturity and determination to bear on their circumstances. They arranged for babysitters to be with the kids so they could study, and transferred to A-B Tech so they could have a shorter commute.
“We just had our math tests left to go,” says Peggy. She and Tim attended the morning Math Lab for help. “The instructors were absolutely wonderful! They explained things so clearly,” remembers Tim.
Tim passed his math test first, and Peggy continued her studies for another week. “I was so scared that I wouldn’t pass. I just wanted to keep reviewing and reviewing to be sure I knew the material.” Peggy says. “I never thought I could ever do algebra and geometry, but I did! I even wound up liking geometry! The instructors made it so much easier for me to learn it.” Peggy passed her last exam and she and Tim celebrated their accomplishments together at our GED Graduation Ceremony in June 2013.
“Now, I’m a big proponent for education,” says Peggy. “I tell everyone to keep going. Just don’t give up! It feels so good to graduate!”
Tim isn’t stopping with the GED. He has registered to attend Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua, New York in the fall. He will be taking Accounting.