Emotional GED ceremony marks new beginning for grads
FLAGSTAFF-In an emotionally charged GED recognition ceremony, 36-year-old Darlene Lewis shared with classmates and an audience of more than 200 people what it means to complete her high school equivalency diploma.
"It means the world to me," she said. "It has taken me 18 years to get to this point. I've tried 15 to 20 times."
Lewis says she has overcome drugs, bad relationship choices and mental illness. The single mother of two teenagers is now studying computer software technology at Coconino Community College.
"I'm going to college to make a better life for myself and my kids. CCC has helped tremendously."
CCC has been offering GED testing since 2004. Since then 649 students throughout the county have completed and passed the test, 172 just in the last year.
"For a lot of these students it is a huge stepping stone," said CCC GED Chief Examiner and Testing Coordinator Eva Jones. "Many of them have struggled along the way and come back to complete their high school degree. Something happened - either they started families early, got bored with school or struggled with addiction to drugs or alcohol - and then they found that they needed to have this in order to go on."
The college offers GED testing every month in Flagstaff and quarterly in Page. Preparation for the test is free; however, the test costs $75.
"Life can be overwhelming. You've got to step back and take a breath and then follow through with what you want to do. You've got to follow through with your dream," said Lewis.
"We are so proud of all of these students. They realize this isn't the end but the beginning of new opportunities," said CCC Testing Specialist Cheryl Shirley. "Our biggest hope for these students is to continue their education."
For more information about GED testing, log on to www.coconino.edu/adulted or call (928) 226-4206.