Big steps

GED graduates proudly take the stage at WBHS

It may have taken time, but 50 Blount County citizens can now say they have a high school education. The Adult GED Education program in Blount County awarded certificates to its 2007-2008 graduating class on June 13 at William Blount High School.

For some, failing to receive a high school diploma is due to joining the armed forces, leaving school to support their families, or even being an immigrant. But for most of the graduates, they just fell behind.

Destiny Holder is one of them. Holder dealt with self-esteem issues and attention deficit disorder during high school. She said she was “always struggling” and just gave up. “I dropped out and got a horrible job at a gas station,” she said.

Working long, odd hours with meager pay, Holder grew tired of the job. But it was not the conditions at gas station that persuaded her to return to school. It was her family.

William Holder, her husband, Roy Chambers, her grandfather, and Haley, her daughter, all pushed her to go back. “I was tired of struggling and (everyone) really wanted me to get my GED,” she said. “And I did not want (Haley) to think it was okay to give up.”

It was not easy for her to hit the books again as a mother. Juggling work, Haley and school began to take their toll on her. She said if it were not for her husband helping her study and her mother for helping with babysitting, she would not have been able to complete the courses.

With her GED, Holder has qualified for the State funded HOPE Lottery Scholarship, which will award her money to continue to higher education. Her plans are to become a registered nurse after she completes her certified nursing assistantship and licensed practical nurse programs.

Holder’s advice for anyone struggling in school is to “never give up and do not drop out.”

Lydia Mixon also fell behind. Growing up in Miami, Fla., she dropped out to work with her sister as a receptionist. She said she tried to finish her education but every time she attempted to go back “life took over.”

She says she would have returned to school a lot sooner, but a move to a new state and motherhood took precedence. Now a mother of three, she was determined to finish.

“I finally put my foot down and said I was going to study,” she said.

Math is Mixon’s hardest subject, but it is her children’s best. Katarina, Cynthia and Brandon attend Carpenters Middle and are all math honor students. “I am blessed that the kids are really good in math,” she said. “They helped me study.” Her kids’ efforts paid off because she did not even study for the final GED exam.

“The biggest enjoyment for completing is the way my kids look at me,” she said. “They know I did it.”

Currently Mixon plans to continue her education and eventually become an attorney. She wants to enroll in Pellissippi State’s paralegal program and continue from there.

At the GED ceremony, Rep. Doug Overbey was the guest speaker. He said the graduates join a long line of people who received a GED. Some of them include Bill Cosby, Dave Thomas, Judge Greg Mathis, Peter Jennings and Michael J. Fox. He challenged them to continue their education and to “take another step, and then another” in life’s journeys.

Carol Ergenbright, adult education coordinator, said she is proud of the graduates and hopes more people strive to complete their education. “Everyone deserves another chance,” she said.

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