Dave Paterson, who dropped out of high school more than 25 years ago, recently decided it was time to practice what he had been preaching to his three sons about the importance of education. He recently completed the steps needed to complete his General Equivalency Diploma (GED).
Last month, Paterson delivered one of the keynote speeches at a ceremony honoring 16 adults who took similar steps and with help from the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC), earned their GEDs during the past year.
“A desire to be a positive example to my children burned inside me,” Paterson said.
In his speech, Paterson congratulated his fellow graduates for having the “courage and determination” to return to their studies.
DCLC’s GED Graduation is an annual event held at Lathem Hall on the campus of Widener University. This year, 16 adult learners donned caps and gowns, processed to the traditional music, received certificates, and basked in the cheers of their family and friends.
Each of the graduates embarked on a unique journey to reach their goal of earning a GED. The graduates ranged in ages from 22 to 61. Some have jobs and families and had not been in school for decades before returning to DCLC; others dropped out of high school more recently; and some started their journey in another country.
Kimberly Robinson, also a speaker at the graduation, described her fear and hesitation at entering a classroom again eight years after suffering a brain hemorrhage that impaired her ability to read, write and memorize information. She smiled as she admitted, “learning at DCLC isn’t as scary as I thought it would be.”
Robinson expressed deep appreciation to the volunteer tutors and classroom instructors who provided the guidance and support that helped her pass the GED exams just 13 months after enrolling in DCLC’s programs.
She received cheers from the audience when she announced, “Believe it or not, I just completed my first year at Delaware County Community College.”
Priscilla Ewing, a volunteer tutor who assists DCLC learners at Ardmore Library, also offered her perspective on the graduates’ accomplishments and perseverance, acknowledging that each student “had individual challenges,” and each one “succeeded at meeting and conquering these challenges.”
DCLC offers a variety of free tutoring and classes to help adults improve their reading and math skills or learn English as a Second Language (ESL).
Many adults come to DCLC with the ultimate goal of earning their GED. To honor GED graduates, the DCLC Board of Directors offers a special book scholarship for any DCLC adult learner pursuing post-secondary education.
Founded in 1975, DCLC is the oldest, largest and only organization in the county whose sole mission is adult literacy. The Literacy Council provides free individual and small-group literacy instruction to Delaware County adults who have low literacy skills. Visit www.delcoliteracy.org or call (610) 876-4811 for more information.
When describing the help he received from his literacy instructors at DCLC, Paterson beamed, “I consider myself very lucky.”