The Northwest Michigan Works! and Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District's Adult Education Class of 2014 was recognized at a commencement ceremony in Traverse City. Watch the video to see some of the highlights of the ceremony.
Tracey Neihardt says she made some bad choices and dropped out of high school in 1996 just two months prior to graduation. Eighteen years later, she says her six-year old step-son served as her inspiration to go to the Northwest Michigan Works! Adult Education Learning Lab where she earned her high school diploma.
“I kept telling him how important staying in school was,” said Neihardt. ”After having the discussion with him I thought to myself how can I tell my kids they have to go to school when I didn’t finish myself.”
37-year old Haley Robertson says she had a rough childhood and early adult life, but finally turned things around and also earned her high school diploma at the Michigan Works Learning Lab.
“I know there will be many trials and tribulations in my life but I am focused on my future now,” said Robertson.
She and Neihardt were two of 62 students to receive diplomas or GEDs as part of the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District’s Adult Education Class of 2014.
Twelve of those students also became the first TBA ISD Adult Education students to become part of the National Adult Education Honor Society.
“Members are selected by the teachers based on dependable attendance, a cooperative attitude towards peers and faculty, and demonstrated effort and initiative while performing school related tasks,” said Christy Nelson, Northwest Michigan Works! adult education coordinator.
Keynote speaker Barb Worgess told the graduates education formed the foundation for her success as the owner of a tax preparation and accounting business. As a single mom in the 1980’s she received assistance through the Job Training Partnership Act that helped her go to college and earn a degree in accounting and finance.
“I hope your education goals extend beyond tonight,” said Worgess. “If it means just one class per semester, hang in there. You will never regret it.”
Many of this year’s graduates already plan to continue their education.
“I’ve got my basic certification already for EMT and I’m going to go back for my associate in Criminal Justice,” said Abigail Pitz, an Adult Education graduate.
“I got accepted to Northwestern for the nursing program,” said Stephanie Ayers, an Adult Education graduate.” It’s another goal that I’m accomplishing, showing my kids you can struggle through school but always make sure you do your best and good things will happen.”