by Diane VanDyke
Family and friends filled the South Hall Community Room at Montgomery County Community College’s West Campus in Pottstown and cheered as 50 students earned their General Education Diplomas (GED) during the Spring GED Graduation ceremony on May 1.
MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout congratulated the students, acknowledging their perseverance and commitment to complete this goal.
“You have a new mindset now, one that is not fixed, but in a growth mode where you want to work as hard as you can to succeed,” she told the graduates. “You know the value of education and how it will make your life better.”
The program’s keynote speaker Hilda Hynes, Barto, traveled a similar journey as the graduates. After leaving high school at age 16, she later earned her GED. Now, she will be receiving her associate’s degree in Communications later this month at MCCC.
“I felt something when I walked across the stage to get my GED,” she said. “It was self-pride. It’s the same feeling you will have when you walk across the stage tonight. Congratulations on believing in yourself and honoring the commitment you made to you.”
According to GED Program Coordinator /Instructor Raymond Ricketts, 775 students graduated since the program started in May 2006, and the graduation rate is 88 percent. The Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) funds the program, which is free to Montgomery County residents, and is held at the College’s West Campus. The fee for out-of-county students is $100, which includes the GED test.
Graduating from the rigorous five-week program gives students a sense of accomplishment and dignity, according to GED Graduate Speaker Malinda Gilyard.
“If you can believe, you can achieve. That’s the bottom line,” Gilyard said, thanking everyone.
Many of the graduates will continue their education, like Lee Scott of Pottstown, who will start computer classes at the College in September, and Malissa Quigley of Douglassville, who wants to enroll in the Nursing program.
In concluding the ceremony, Peggy Schmidt, Executive Director of the Partnership Transportation Association of Montgomery County and Workforce Investment Board Member, told the graduates to listen to the voice from within.
“The voice that comes from inside speaks from your heart and will truly guide you on your way,” she said. “I wish you the best on your next journey.”