The journey to my high school diploma was not an easy one. It started in 2016 when I was about to turn 17 years old. I was young—but I had already been through many obstacles. After working hard to overcome them, I decided to better myself and my future.

That’s why, in 2020, I enrolled in Kennedy-King College’s Adult Education program to earn my diploma. It was a new beginning for me, and I was ready to get started and put my best foot forward. But just as I was starting on this path, the COVID pandemic happened. Jobs were scarce, and I was working to survive while being concerned about my family, my health and safety, and being able to complete my education. I had to put school on hold, which hurt to my core, but I was in survival mode.

As the pandemic progressed, I devised a plan. I was clear on my goal: I would complete my high school education and continue my studies to become a surgical technician. My mind was made up, my vision was clear, and nothing was going to stop me this time, including myself.

I re-enrolled at Kennedy-King, with a new fire inside and determination like never before. I not only enrolled in the high school diploma prep courses, but I also enrolled in the Early Childhood Education Bridge program. Because I’m passionate about working with children, I was excited to earn college credits and a basic certificate in early childhood education. I knew with those in-demand skills, I could get a job while I continued working toward my diploma.

Things were going so well that I decided to go ahead and take the remainder of my official GED© tests to earn my diploma. I had completed the math test already and only had three more to go. I completed my last section of the GED© test on September 24, 2022. Then, in December, I completed my Early Childhood Education Bridge program at City Colleges. I was even chosen to be a speaker at City Colleges’ Adult Education High School Diploma Recognition Ceremony at the end of the Fall semester! It all worked out just as I had envisioned it would.

I am currently enrolled in surgical technology classes with a bright future ahead of me. With consistency, hard work, determination, support from my family, and the instructors and staff at Kennedy-King College’s Adult Education program, I’ve found my purpose and my path.

Written by Italia Staine, 2022 High School Diploma Earner, Kennedy-King College