GED graduation celebrates ‘winners’

Published 10:32 am Friday, February 1, 2013

STUDENT SPEAKERS at the GED graduation, who spoke of their backgrounds and commitment to obtaining a GED were, Sarah Babcock and Isaac Weston.

Everyone was a winner at the GED graduation ceremonies held Tuesday evening at the Bainbridge College Kirbo Center.

Debbie McIntyre, director of adult education at the college, acting as emcee for the evening, reminded the students of what they are told at time of orientation into the GED program — “We will forget all the past things that kept you from graduating from high school and concentrate on your future story. You are making it come true tonight,” McIntyre said.

The theme was repeated by Laura Lee Bernstein, with the Technical College System of Georgia, who told the students they dared to dream of this accomplishment and “this is just the beginning of new titles you will achieve.”

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Thirty-six students participated in the graduation exercises, which included GED students from 2011-12 as well as those from the current Adult Education Division of Bainbridge College. This was a year of transition for the program, which is now under the jurisdiction of BC Adult Education.

BC President Dr. Richard Carvajal was the keynote speaker. He began by asking the graduates to stand, turn around and give a standing ovation to their families and those who supported them.

Carvajal recounted his own story of personal struggle and hardship, telling the graduates that very little of his youth suggested he would be successful in life. His family was very poor; his parents divorced when he was in junior high school and his mother supported the family by cleaning houses. They lived on food stamps and in high school he was homeless for a period of time and lived in a car.

“I have come to realize my story is not so special,” he continued, “but normal, as I know many of you have had similar experiences.”

“I’M PROUD OF YOU, DADDY,” says 4-year-old Maurice Foxworth, as he gives his daddy, Isaac Weston, a big hug following GED graduation. Weston is surrounded by family members, including a cousin and nephew. His four children are Ontavius Washington, 13, Markevius Washington, 11, Kassidy Washington, 10, and Maurice.

Two of those stories were shared by the student speakers, Sarah Babcock and Isaac Weston.

Babcock told how she arrived in Bainbridge in August 2012. She and her children had been living from shelter to shelter.

“I was headed down the path of destruction,” she said. “My children were suffering. I had been put out of my brother’s house and into a hotel room in Detroit.”

She knew she would lose custody of her children if she didn’t turn her life around. Reluctantly, she called her mother for help, although she and her mother had not been getting along. Her mother agreed to help her get on her feet and sent her a one-way ticket to Albany.

She arrived there Aug. 17, 2012, and came on to Bainbridge, where she unsuccessfully looked for a job. She realized she needed to get an education, but when she attempted to enroll at Bainbridge College she was told she would first need to get a GED. She began attending GED classes every day and two and one half weeks later she was on her way to Albany to take the examination, earning her GED in September.

Babcock immediately enrolled at Bainbridge College, where she currently holds a 4.0 grade-point average and plans to graduate in 2014 with a degree in nursing.

As Babcock thanked those who helped her in her journey, she closed by saying, “Thank you, Mom. You were always there for me.”

Isaac Weston told how he had dropped out of school years ago, thinking he had a plan for his life. But it hadn’t worked out.

As the custodial father of four children, ages 4 though 13, he too realized he needed to have a better plan. He has been attending adult education classes since September 2012, and described obtaining his GED as “the biggest challenge of my life.”

He said he would never forget the look of joy and pride on the faces of his children when he told them he passed the tests and was getting his GED.

“This is not the end for me,” he said. “I plan to go on to school, and will enroll at Bainbridge College in March.”

Weston plans to study to become an electrician.

The GED consists of comprehensive testing on each of five subjects: reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. In order to pass, students must have a total score of 2250 overall to pass, and average at least 450 per section.

Nine students were identified as honor graduates, for scoring 2700 or better on the tests. They are: Sarah Babcock, Courtney Cooper, Kevin Lewis Fraser, Crystal Dawn Godwin, Stephanie Harter, James Harrell, Valerie Lashae Jackson, Victoria Ann Long and Ashlyn Joyce Soper.