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Re:Start helps adults reach their career goals

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Re:Start GED program graduate Scotty Meeks accepts his diploma. Contributed photo

High school dropouts of all ages are improving their chances of reaching their career goals in a difficult job market by obtaining a GED with the help of the preparation program offered by Re:Start - The Center for Adult Education.

“The primary purpose of the GED preparation program is to help an adult earn their educational credentials so that they can enter the work force or maintain stable employment,” said Re:Start Executive Director Lori Hairrell. “Even some fast food restaurants require a GED.”

Program participants receive instruction in reading, math and language arts until they demonstrate an efficiency level, she said, then take practice tests to further prepare them for the exam.

“It’s really a big monumental task for someone who has quit high school for whatever reason, who is trying to maintain a family or full-time job,” said Hairrell. “There’s a lot of barriers to overcome, and we want to help people break that cycle and move on with their lives and overcome the odds.”

Scotty Meeks of North Chattanooga said he dropped out of high school at age 16 because he had to work and was out for 22 years before pursuing his GED at age 38.

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Re:Start - The Center for Adult Education is at 1501 Riverside Dr., Suite 260 and can be reached at 855-4443 or here.

He said he studied two weeks straight for four hours a day before passing the eight-hour exam.

“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” said Meeks. “If you want it bad enough it’s not really that hard. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t do it a lot sooner.”

An economic development program funded in part through United Way and the Department of Labor Workforce Development, the Re:start preparation program is designed to help adults compete in an increasingly difficult job market.

“Their hands are tied without that credential,” Hairrell said.

Workers who obtain a GED have the opportunity to earn $9,000 more per year on average, said Hairell, improving their overall self-esteem and allowing them to better provide for their families and themselves.

She said participants can also use the credential to pursue goals through post-secondary education.

“(Obtaining a GED) helped me get into college, which will soon put me into a career,” said 21-year-old program participant Evan Newman, a North Chattanooga resident who plans to major in environmental science at Chattanooga State in order to become a game warden or park ranger and eventually pursue a degree in biology to become a wildlife biologist.

“They treated me like an adult and I enjoyed being there,” said Newman. “It’s a friendly environment.”

Hixson resident Joshua Hix is a 26-year-old father of two who was injured in a roofing accident before deciding to get his GED in order to go to seminary school, he said.

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