Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Reaching for a dream with the GED

Published January 7, 2014

Cap and gown? Check

Speeches? Check.

Cap toss? Check.

This festive event with some three dozen graduates at the Marist School on Thursday, Dec. 19, meant more than your typical high school commencement.

Centro Hispano Marista began in the fall of 2012. The GED program attracted hundreds of Hispanic women and men who hoped to qualify for a new federal immigration program called deferred action.

Nearly all the students are so-called Dreamers, people brought to the United States illegally when they were youngsters and teens. They have grown up here. People I interviewed talked about a fear that always had that one traffic stop could end in deportation. They told me they wanted to fulfill their high school equivalency degree as part of the application for deferred action from the U.S Immigration Customs Enforcement.

One new graduate dropped out of high school her senior year because she was pregnant.  Now in her mid-20s, she wanted to close a chapter in he life and be role model for her daughter. And that’s not to mention her dreams of a college degree.

Another left high school at 15 and returned to the classroom in his early 30s. Earning the GED was a goal even as he started a family and had a successful construction job.

For the past 18 months, many had to find that difficult point where they could balance both work and family commitments to attend weekly classes. Some 70 percent of the class were women.

Watching this I thought about the few times I’ve signed up for online courses. After a few weeks, most times the course has been pushed aside by other commitments, family duties, or just plain tiredness. And I know well that my job in an air conditioned office isn’t nearly as physically demanding as the woman who works cleaning apartments on the overnight shift or the man who is a foreman on a construction site.

The new program begins in January and more than 600 people are registered for the classes. There is more about the program in the Georgia Bulletin’s Jan. 9 issue.


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