There is no better example of the promise the new year can bring than the mid-December ceremony for GED graduates of the Durango Adult Education Center. And thanks to a three-year grant from the State of Colorado’s Adult Education Literacy Act, the center now has a new program in Cortez.
On the evening of Dec. 19, 11 students, including Cortez resident Ed Lettman – whose traditional high school years were interrupted because of a variety of challenges – moved the tassels on their mortar boards from left to right, having earned a high school equivalency diploma.
Several went to the microphone to credit those who helped them along the way and to share what they planned to do next.
Lettman managed to support himself working without the credential, but said in today’s world, it is really important. He was the first graduate, at 62 years old, of the Cortez program. Some graduates were emotional in thanking their families for support.
According to data from the U.S. Census, one in four adults in Montezuma County lack a high school education, and earning one is often no small feat. The recent GED earners studied at night, traveled across state lines, moved quickly or more slowly through the instruction and faced learning challenges.
Another graduate is at the La Plata County jail. County Sheriff Sean Smith is a strong supporter of the program and makes it as easy as possible for education center staff to deliver classes there.
The graduation speaker, who a couple of years ago sat where the graduates were sitting and said so, is studying at Pueblo Community College on her way, she hopes, to a doctorate in psychology. Since leaving high school at 16, and beginning the GED program at 17, she said she’s learned personal responsibility and thanked those “who believed in me.”
She is a poised and articulate 19-year-old.
By the end of the ceremony, the mood in the room was that success for all in the coming year and years was certain.
For 2018, there are any number of things we can look forward to: a stronger connections to family and friends, rewarding employment, the completion of a 5K run or other goals we set for ourselves.
But among the most rewarding is educational accomplishment, and there is none better than that first step, earned in the midst of sometimes difficult circumstances: a GED diploma.