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For Immediate Release


GED Graduates Celebrate Achievement

They leave high school for various reasons. But thousands return to Catawba Valley Community College each year to finish what they started. Recently, the college honored nearly 400 individuals who completed their general equivalency diploma, or GED, at some point in the past year at a commencement ceremony for family and friends.

For some, it took years to finish. Others, it took a few short months. The end result is the same prized achievement and doorway to better lifelong career opportunities: a high school diploma.

During lunch breaks, after working third shift or after dinner and before bed time, they came to CVCC to study, practice math and write essays. Some were lucky enough to drive to class while others were forced to pursue more creative transportation…all because they were determined to finish.   

One night during class at CVCC’s Alexander Center for Education, GED liaison Joyce Wooten noticed something odd under student Kevin Griffin’s desk.

“’Oh, that’s Kevin’s vehicle!’ someone told me,” said Wooten, who learned that Griffin was riding his skateboard to class and sometimes walking. “There were some cold nights he would head home, and one of us would give him a ride.”  

“It was a long way and a lot of dogs,” said Griffin, describing his five-mile one-way journey from Hiddenite to Taylorsville. “I did it, though.”

Griffin didn’t waste any time after completing his GED earlier this spring. He’s enrolled in college level courses at CVCC and working at Mitchell+Gold in Alexander County.

Sharon Flowers’ road to her GED was also challenging, but in a different way. She quit school at age 15 and never thought she was “smart enough” to go back.  
“I’d been out of school 39 years. I’d never done geometry, never written an essay,” said Flowers, who lives in Claremont. “While I was in school, I lost my grandmother and a grandchild, and gained one grandchild.  The teachers supported me all along the way. All I can say is, ‘Thank you, God.’”

Constant words of encouragement from the staff and teachers are what helped West Virginia native Jennifer Blakeley persevere.

In between working nine or 10-hour shifts in furniture and caring for her family, CVCC staff never let her give up. And there were many times struggling with math she wanted to do just that.

“If just one of my high school teachers had encouraged me to stay, I would have. I wanted someone to tell me not to quit,” said Blakeley.  In her own quiet way, she’s helping to “pay it forward” in the same way her CVCC teachers helped her.

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you it can’t be done,” she said. “This is a second chance to make it right.”

For more information about enrolling in GED classes at CVCC, call 828-327-7000, ext. 4353.

Pictured are (front, from left) David Bristow of Hickory, Alicia Boyd of Maiden, Josh DeFrank of Newton, Amanda Bentley of Taylorsville, Amanda Beard of Claremont, Casey Catalano of Newton, Polly R. Aiken of Newton, Fannie E. Wright of Newton, Jennifer Blakley of Taylorsville, Carlos Delgado of Newton, Tracy Brooks of Newton, (2nd) Tammy R. Dixon of Hickory, LeighAnn Dingus of Hickory, Justin D. Billings of Taylorsville, Tamika Coulter of Hickory, Roger Cordoba of Hickory, Eulalia Chavez-Martinez of Claremont, Twyla Allred of Conover, Sharon Flowers of Claremont, Christa Dunford of Taylorsville, (3rd) Tammy Goforth of Hickory, Lisa Miller of Hickory, Andrea Garcia of Newton, Stephanie Fulbright of Longview, Chris Fredell of Newton, Kelly Franklin of Claremont, Daimon Franklin of Newton, Dylan W. Hull of Vale, Patricia A. Dugan-Whiteman of Newton, (4th) Patrick Marquez of Conover, Adam Lusk of Taylorsville, Kevin L. Ledford of Hickory, Shaniqua Lawrence of Hickory, Chessia N. Jolly of Newton, Sherrie Groves of Conover, Kevin Griffin of Taylorsville, (5th) Amber Lemley of Maiden, Rachel Olds of Hickory, Lorna Murillo-Dagenhart of Catawba, Gary Mundy of Hickory, Jesus Moreno of Maiden, Jessica M. Moore of Taylorsville, Charles B. Moore of Taylorsville, Bradley Minton of Statesville, Devin Milam of Catawba, Angelica Miles of Newton, Jose M. Orozco Andrade of Hickory, (6th) Sarah T. Rozzelle of Taylorsville, Gordon Ross II of Catawba, Shawanda Robinson of Hickory,  Donnie H. Roberts of Taylorsville, Stephanie N. Reynolds of Newton, Andrew L. Pruitt of Taylorsville, Melinda Propst of Hickory, Antwone Peterson of Newton, Shawndrea Patterson of Hickory, Epifanio Ortiz Barrera of Hickory, (7th) Alexander Thomas of Newton, Brandi Jo Taylor of Taylorsville, Constance L. Stillwell of Taylorsville, Isabella Smith of Newton, Marc A. Sluder of Connelly Springs, Wendy R. Shuford of Longview, Tabitha Shook of Taylorsville, Sandale Shook of Hiddenite, Vivian Sanniota of Hickory, Tony Sanniota of Hickory,(8th) David J. Locklear of Taylorsville, Robert Geiger of Taylorsville, Tammy W. Young of Hickory, Nicholas Wright of Hickory, Cynthia Wimberly of Taylorsville, Shannon Wesson of Catawba, Crystal M. Watson of Hickory, Megan Vann of Claremont, April Underwood of Bethlehem, Clinton A. Trivette of Hickory, (9th) James Sharpe of Morganton, Robbie Moose of Taylorsville, Rachael Burton of Newton, William McCall of Taylorsville, Zecharian Christiansen of Black Mountain, Evandre A. Molina of Lincolnton, Tony Brown of Newton, Randy Carpenter of Maiden


2550 US HIGHWAY 70 SE • HICKORY, NC • 28602-8302 • 828.327.7000
Updated 10.30.2008: Administrator