One of Wayne Minor’s major regrets in life was not having his high school diploma.
The hype man for Hit The Deck Entertainment, Minor works with students a lot and he often felt ashamed when he wouldn’t be able to tell them where he graduated from. He walked away from Orange County High School in 2001, then a senior. Now, he can proudly hold his head high and tell them he has his diploma.
Minor, along with 12 other graduates walked the stage to receive their GED from the Piedmont Regional Adult and Career Education Program May 23.
“I had to go back, I had to learn some stuff so I figured I might as well get my diploma while I’m at it,” Minor said.
Minor says his plan is to now attend a two-year college for marketing and promotion.
“That’s what I do best, is promo,” Minor said, proudly chuckling as he exchanged hugs with everyone around.
Eunice Martin spoke in front of the nearly 100 family and friends assembled, proudly declaring her dream of becoming a registered nurse. First, however, she had to go back for her GED which she completed despite having doubts.
“I never had an opportunity to get my high school diploma, but then I came to a part of my life that I wanted to do more and better myself and make a difference in myself and fulfill my dream of becoming a RN,” Martin said. “My first step was to get my GED. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, there were times when I felt like giving up.”
Like many of the graduates, she had a family to support and a full time job.
“It may be slow, but with perseverance, it is possible,” Martin said. “The PRACEP program has made it easier and walked with me, each step of the way.”
Linda George thanked her family for their support and putting up with a kitchen table full of books and papers for two years. Thirty-seven years ago she left school her senior year to support a baby and a family. After retiring and watching her children move on, she could dedicate the time necessary to getting her degree.
“We’ve worked hard, I’m so happy to be here tonight,” George said. “I had speak tonight, because I would be remiss to not thank the PRACEP program, the teachers, the administration. It was truly a team effort for us to be here this evening.
“This is a personal goal for me, it means a lot to me to check that off. I’m finally a high school graduate.”
Anne-Marie Eberhardt, instructor for the program, praised the effort the students put forth to achieve their diploma.
“This is an incredibly exciting night and I’m looking out at folks that I know worked so hard,” Eberhardt said. “Working with adult learners through PRACEP has been a true privilege. Through this program I have met some really incredible people, people who wanted more for themselves and for their families.”
Eberhart noted that people come to the program with all-different backgrounds and various reasons for wanting to achieve their GED, but they all have the same common goal and push each other to earn success.
“We all have our own way of learning, our own strengths and struggles,” Eberhardt said.
Pastor Dan Carlton, of Culpeper Baptist Church, spoke to the students about overcoming those struggles to celebrate their achievement.
“Tonight we come together because we’re going to celebrate some people who didn’t just talk about a new path in life, they took a step,” Carlton said. “That makes you unique in our community and in our culture. I would encourage you to keep thinking about the path you are on, and who can help you on that path,” Carlton told the graduates.
Another eight graduates also completed the Plugged In Virginia program – an adult education program that serves as a workforce skills educator – helping prepare students for a certain career.
This year, eight graduated with a certificate for para education, with Caroline Dunstan Smeltz, the PRACEP Regional Specialist, noting that the five county region’s school systems are the biggest employer and they are constantly searching for paras.
The program, started in 2009 in Southwest Virginia, is now offered through all 22 adult education programs in the state.
“Plugged In is rigorous, it’s intensive and it demands motivation and dedication,” Dunstan Smeltz said.
Graduates receiving their GED included:
Graduates completing Plugged In: