Monday, August 3, 2009
There are a million different reasons students find themselves testing for a general education development diploma, says Re:Start director of education Rubi Porter.
“It’s just life gets in the way,” Porter said. “We understand that. You hear it all. You will find out there is no one story that can be told for the whole group. Everyone has an individual story.”
Ooltewah resident Kristy Bezenah said she dropped out of high school two years before graduation to have a son. She said she joined the Re:Start program for a chance at a better career and to be an example for her children, Adam, 11, and Cheyanne, 8.
“It made me feel very happy that I actually accomplished that,” said Bezenah, who graduated this summer. “It was something I really wanted to do. I was just crazy when I walked across the stage. It’s just one of those things you’ll never forget.”
Bezenah said she completed the Re:Start classes and took the GED tests in seven months.
“For two and a half years of school that’s pretty good,” she said. “When I got that accomplished I wanted to go to college.”
Now Bezenah is in nursing school at Chattanooga State and she said she has the Re:Start program to thank for her success.
“They’re amazing people,” she said. “They encouraged me a lot.”
Re:Start, The Center for Adult Education, is a state-funded program that prepares students to take the GED tests. The 50-year-old organization was formerly known as READ Chattanooga before changing its name earlier this year to better reflect its role of providing adult education for the community.
“We know that they start, and many, many times they have to stop out,” Porter said. “They can re-start here.”
Porter said finishing school as an adult is hard. She said having children, sick parents or a spouse complicates things.
“It’s not easy,” Porter said. “When you’re an adult, school is not the priority.”
Porter said GED graduates go on to lead productive lives, some becoming doctors, lawyers and business owners.
“These people have made a big accomplishment in their life,” Porter said.
Porter said a GED diploma requires five tests. Most colleges, she said, accept the GED diploma, and diploma holders also qualify for the Tennessee HOPE scholarship.