18 Students Received Maryland High School Diplomas
Families and friends gathered at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Prince Frederick Campus Oct. 26 to recognize 18 students for earning their Maryland High School diplomas through the CSM Adult Education Program. These graduates were the first graduating class from the CSM program in Calvert County.
“We are proud of each and every one of you and we admire your persistence and success in earning this diploma,” said CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy.
The fall 2017 graduates honored Oct. 26 are: Angela C. Claggett, Ryan Joseph Donovan, Amanda Douglass, Tessie Villo Downie, Christopher M. Gonzalez, Dana Marie Gray, Danielle Genevieve Hairston, Steven Hammons, Stacey Sherell Izevbigie, LaKrisha Moná Jones, Valerie Marie Jordan, Natalie Ann Lloyd-Schultz, Tierra Nicole Mackall, Shaneakqua Chantell Parmley, Dina Elvira Ponce-Reyes, Ja’Net La’Nise Rice, Isabel Marie Rodriquez and Regina Ann Windsor.
The graduates ranged from 17 up to 57 years old, with graduate Steven Hammons, 53, serving as the event’s student speaker.
Hammons, who entered the program with a ninth-grade education, commended CSM and Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS) for developing the National External Diploma Program. “What I enjoyed most about the program and its curriculum is that you are able to apply most of the studies to real-life situations,” he said. “The resources that we used to help guide us through each study are still useful after you have completed the course.”
Hammons also took the opportunity to emotionally thank his family members for their support as he pursued his diploma. Several of the graduates noted after the ceremony that their families were a key inspiration to enroll in the program.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker was CSM criminal justice student Benjamin Brown, 65, of Randle Cliff. Brown earned his diploma through the Maryland Adult National External Diploma Program in April 2016 and is on track to earn an associate degree in criminal justice at CSM in 2018. After that, his goal is to pursue a law degree at Bowie State University or the University of Maryland, College Park.
Brown said before the ceremony that he had one key idea he hoped to pass on to the new graduates, encouraging them to continue on in their education now that they have their high school diploma.
“This shouldn’t be the end. This should be the beginning,” Brown said.
This year, CSM has introduced a scholarship program designed specifically to benefit these students as they graduate with their high school diploma, and Murphy announced the program in her remarks. All Adult Education graduates participating in a program in the tri-county area who apply to CSM will be sent an acceptance email to attend the college. To benefit from this new program, all they have to do as a graduate is print that acceptance email and bring it to CSM along with the certificate they received at graduation and they will receive a $500 scholarship that will be automatically credited to their account.
“The CSM Foundation has graciously provided these funds for our Adult Education Scholarship, and it’s a way to recognize and congratulate these students on their hard work,” Murphy said. “Plus, it’s an incentive to let you know we believe in you and are here to help you take that next step.”
Several of the graduates indicated that they already had plans to continue their education at CSM. Jordan of Huntingtown said, “That’s so exciting,” noting that it would be a big help to her as she begins her studies that will hopefully lead to a degree in nursing.
Jordan laughed when asked about her experience working toward her diploma. “Long nights. It was hard,” she said. “But I saw the big picture at the end and that’s what kept me going.”
Another graduate, Gonzalez of Prince Frederick, said he already has a good construction job, but he had taken on the challenge to earn his diploma because he is the father of three children. “Just so they know you need to get it,” he said. “You have to have it nowadays. That’s the first thing they look for.”
Like Gonzalez, Rice of Annapolis said she pursued her GED because she is a parent. “It was challenging. But it was worth it,” Rice said. “I plan to take this as far as I can go … not for myself but for my son. He’s 5.”
And with her high school diploma in hand, Rice said she planned to continue her education at CSM where she may pursue nursing or a degree that would prepare her to work with mentally challenged adults.
Jones of Prince Frederick was also pleasantly surprised by the news about the scholarship. “I’m really excited.” The mother of two said that earning her GED had been challenging because she was working and caring for her family at the same time. Jones’ goal is to become a pharmacy technician. She plans to take advantage of the promised scholarship and earn a pharmacy tech certificate at CSM.
The Adult Education program at the Prince Frederick Campus provides courses in Adult Basic Education classes to cover all areas of basic reading, writing and math as needed to prepare for the GED test or the National External Diploma Program and English as a Second Language classes to provide basic English language and life skills instruction for adults whose native language is not English.
There is also a Family Literacy course that focuses on the development of workforce skills and GED test preparation to increase students’ education and employability skills while learning to support their child’s academic development. Instruction is available to help parents in becoming their child’s primary teacher and full partners in the education of their child.
The classes are small so that learning can be individualized to meet the needs of each student.
The Adult Education Program at CSM is supported through grant funding by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, the U.S. Department of Education, and local funding. Because of this funding, most classes are free.
“This is an important component,” said CSM Vice President Dan Mosser, “since offering free or inexpensive courses for adults living in Calvert County who are motivated and want to expand their job opportunities, or build their working knowledge of English as a second language or earn their GED. We hope to remove any cost barriers that may have held people back in the past.”
To view a gallery of photos from the Oct. 26 ceremony, visit http://csmphoto.zenfolio.com/17calvertged.