The Tifton Housing Authority’s GED program has been a triumph for five determined residents who were able to complete the program and earn their GED certificate.
During an interview Thursday at the Old Omega Road Community Building, No. 14, where the GED classes are held, Shanna Graham, 29; Cadrea Bailey, 26; and Dasha Marshall, 25, discussed what motivated them to further their education.
Jadonna Jackson, resident initiatives manager for the Tifton Housing Authority, and GED teacher Harriett Kirby were also present. Residents Adelia Brown, 34, and China Davis, 19, who also completed the GED program, were unable to attend.
Jackson said the five women completed the program in December. They each received a certificate and will also receive a framed letter from Dr. Homer Day, chairman. In addition, they will be treated to lunch.
“That’s pretty much our way of thanking them, because it was not easy,” Jackson said.
The Tifton Housing Authority began offering GED classes through their program for residents in 2010. Since then, approximately 20 people have completed the program. Jackson thanked the Tift County Board of Education for their recent donation of computers to the Housing Authority.
When asked what made them decide to get their GED, Graham said, “I just wanted to better my life for my kids so I wouldn’t have to do restaurant jobs all my life.” She said she dropped out of high school her junior year after getting pregnant.
“I waited long enough for all of my kids to be in school so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a babysitter,” she said.
Graham found out about the Housing Authority’s GED program from Bailey and another woman named Sabrina Williams who both encouraged her to get involved in the program.
“I had been procrastinating for a while because I wasn’t thinking about it,” she said.
But she quickly realized that it was something that she needed to do.
Graham said she feels very proud of herself for completing the program and earning her GED. She said math for her was the most difficult part of the tests. Her plans for include getting her CNA license, then her LPN.
Bailey, who was already attending Moultrie Technical College, said she found out about the program through Williams as well. She said she stopped attending Moultrie Tech due to her father’s death.
Bailey said at the end, all she needed was 20 points. She thought she wouldn’t have those points by December, but with Kirby’s help, she says, she accomplished her goal.
“She had more than that in fact,” Kirby noted.
Bailey said she had all of her credits but dropped out of high school because she couldn’t pass the graduation test. Accomplishing math and her grandmother, who recently died, were her motivations.
She has signed up for the online school Ashford University and is looking forward to orientation, and is planning on getting a degree in early childhood education.
Marshall said she found out about the GED program through Graham. However, she got sick at one point and with the help of Kirby she was able to take the GED tests and passed with flying colors on her first attempt. She says her children were her motivation. They were the first in her family to know the good news.
“They just hugged me and made me cry,” she said, smiling. She said her cousin has encouraged her to follow in her footsteps and go for her LPN license.
Marshall said it may become hard when trying to get a GED certificate, but “they have to stick to it and keep going, because without it they aren’t going to get anywhere in life.” She said the program is great. She and Graham noted attendance is a must.
“Not being here, you will never get a lesson,” Graham said. “You can’t learn something that you don’t know on your own without any help.”
Kirby said they had to put in about 16 hours a week (four hours a day for four days a week). Every 40 hours, they would take a test of adult basic education that monitors their progress. The next step is the practice test and then the GED tests, she explained. She said most people don’t pass it all the first time, like Marshall and Davis did. She said this is unusual.
“Determination is the key,” Kirby said about completing the program. “If you really want it, it is there and you can get it. It’s not going to be easy. It takes a lot of time and a lot of making up your mind if you have to take baby steps right now and then take some bigger steps. Most people don’t get it. But, these ladies just persevered and did wonderfully.”
Jackson said Graham’s help in recruiting other residents to join the program has been a great inspiration.
“We’re extremely proud of Shanna and her accomplishments,” she said. She added that Kirby is being honored at an awards dinner Jan. 18 at the Leroy Rogers Senior Center.
Residents with the Tifton Housing Authority who are interested in participating in the GED program can call Jackson at 382-5434, Ext. 107.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.