18 January 2013
Stevens-Henager awards GED certificates
ST. GEORGE — Stevens-Henager College officials issued carnations and a generous amount of praise Friday night to its second graduating class of GED certificate recipients.
The ceremonies honored 99 people who have participated in Stevens-Henager's free GED test preparation course and successfully obtained their high school diploma equivalence.
"What an awesome sight this is," said Brandon Turley, the school's GED course coordinator at its St. George campus. “In a year and half, we've helped 250 people get their GEDs. When I took this job over a year and a half ago, I had these expectations. First I didn't think there were a lot of people who needed their GED, and then I'd be dealing with the stereotypical GED student, you know that's lazy or whatever. … I was dead wrong."
Dean of Education Greg Stanfield said the most difficult part of the test is usually the math portion, but GED certificate recipient Jacqueline Najarro said taking the test in English and having to write an essay were her greatest challenges.
"I'm an ESL student," Najarro said. "I'm a U.S. citizen but I did most of my growing up in Guatemala. When I was 17 I came back. … I've improved a lot during the last four months."
Najarro is a student in Stevens-Henager's medical assistant program and is six months into a 20-month educational pathway, she said. But not all of the certificate recipients are students at the school.
Stevens-Henager's Good Neighbor Initiative provides not only free GED test preparation, but pays for students to take the class as well, regardless of whether they intend to continue studying at Stevens-Henager.
"The biggest benefit is really for these students to accomplish something in their lives," Stanfield said.
"A lot of them, for whatever reason they dropped out of high school," he said. "A lot of these students, they do go on into our college and continue their dream, work on their associate (degree), work on their bachelor's. We've had some of these students who have graduated go on to the University of Utah, Utah State. … We just really want to be here to help fulfill their dreams."
Shay Carrington, a student who also is studying a medical specialty, said financial reasons were the only thing keeping her from receiving her education before she heard about the school's GED program.
"Before I earned my GED, I was working fast food making minimum age and living paycheck to paycheck," Carrington said. "Being a wife and mother at a young age, I chose to make sacrifices for my family. … Receiving my GED changed my life. I now no longer have to settle for (any) job."
St. George Mayor Dan McArthur encouraged the students to continue educating themselves and maintain a positive attitude.
"Those people who settled this community were dedicated, hard-working people just like you," he said. "I know it was not an easy task. There were some things thrown in your way. … But we don't want you to quit."