Phylicia Cattladge of South Toledo, center, waits with her fellow graduates backstage before the start of the commencement ceremony for students in the Adult Basic and Literacy Education program today at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts at Owens Community College in Perrysburg Township.
Linda Garcia, 43, was in a cap and gown today at Owens Community College in Perrysburg Township after earning her high school equivalency degree.
"It is going to be different," Ms. Garcia said ahead of time about walking across the stage. "I've always dreamed about it. I worked hard and I'm pretty proud of myself.
"I'm pumped, I feel like I'm 17 or 18."
The college's Center for Fine and Performing Arts Mainstage Theatre was the forum where more than 50 area residents were honored for their academic success, obtaining a GED degree. The residents took classes and practiced the test through Owens ABLE program that is funded by the state of Ohio Board of Regents and U.S. Department of Education.
"We have free GED prep classes based on the individual student's needs and what hey need to learn," said Jill Souza said, Owens ABLE manager. "It is always really nice day to see the students honored because they work really hard."
She said they work with students from the ages of 18 to 65 who want to get the GED for personal satisfaction.
"We try to make it as much like a high school graduation as we can, since they missed out on theirs," Ms. Souza said.
For Ms. Garcia, it was after she lost her job and knew she needed to earn it. She said she wants to go to Owens to become a nurse. She is working on her entrance exam for nursing. She wants to to encourage others to go back and get their GED and go to school after being away from classes, too.
"I want to let others know they don't have to be afraid," Ms. Garcia said. "You can get right back into it. I'm proud of myself and hope I inspire others."
Contact Matt Thompson at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.