LIMA — For the participants, it was the culmination of a great deal of hard work, overcoming both naysayers and their own self-doubt.
Apollo Career Center held a graduation ceremony for its adult General Education Development, or GED, program Wednesday, and the 50 graduates on hand was the largest single group ever for the school.
“We're very proud of the students, and we're also proud of our dedicated staff,” Rick Turner, director of adult programs at Apollo, said. “This is what we're about, getting students the opportunity to go into the workforce or continue their education.”
The school commons was packed with both family and friends supporting the graduates, as well as representatives from the Ohio Board of Regents, an advisory board focused on advancing higher education.
“I look at these as celebrations,” Gary Cates, senior vice chancellor for the board, said. “What's happening tonight for some people is something they thought they couldn't achieve or others said they couldn't achieve. They proved themselves and others wrong. They overcame whatever obstacles they needed to in order to achieve this.”
Nikia Fletcher, the Board of Regents program manager for northwest Ohio, was the keynote speaker at the event. For her, seeing Ohio adults obtain their GED encourages her in her work in Columbus.
“For me, it means closure,” she said. “What we do in Columbus is a lot of busy work, a lot of planning and structure. To see all of that hard work culminate in this kind of event, it encourages me to go forward and keep pushing and doing what we're doing in Columbus.”
Each graduate took a different road to Wednesday's graduation, some more difficult than others.
“I'd been going and then I stopped because of family issues,” Aaron Godsey said. “I had to dedicate myself this time. I'd waited long enough.”
Cynthia Clemons and her daughter, Heather Harp, graduated together.
“I had to quit school because of her,” Clemons said. “She was sick all the time because of a birth defect.”
However, going through the program together spurred them both on to the finish.
“It helped a lot being together,” Harp said.
Both Clemons and Harp have already completed further education since passing the GED exam in July and September, respectively.
“I'm going to get into manufacturing,” Clemons said. “I just got my certificate in manufacturing processes.”
“I just got my certificate from Rhodes for phlebotomy and I just enrolled to start in for my medical lab tech certification,” Harp said.
Getting over that first hurdle of obtaining GED certification gave the women confidence to continue their education.
“Once I got this, I felt like I was ready for whatever,” Harp said. “I called Rhodes and got my classes scheduled as soon as I passed my test.”
Dressed in his cap and gown, Godsey had a message for those unsure about going back for a GED.
“If you don't have it, go get it,” he said. “Get it now.”