RACINE — Andrea Goodloe, 34, wiped tears from her eyes as she moved her graduation tassel from right to left.

For Goodloe, the event has “been a long time coming for me.”

“To see my kids and my family … watch me graduate — it’s amazing,” Goodloe said. “I’m just happy that I made my mom and dad proud.”

Goodloe was among 13 individuals to graduate as part of the new 5.09 High School Equivalency Diploma program, coordinated by Gateway Technical College, Racine County Workforce Solutions and the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin.

The inaugural graduation ceremony took place on Gateway’s Racine Campus on Feb. 6.

For Goodloe, being one of 10 children and watching the youngest graduate from Horlick High School last year, she knew “I just had to do it.”

Now she’s planning to go to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to continue her education and become a certified nursing assistant.

Goodloe’s parents, Floyd Hayes and Cheady Griffin, were present at the ceremony.

Griffin said she knows how important it was to Goodloe to graduate in front of her children.

“I graduated here (at Gateway) in front of (my kids), so they can see me do it,” Griffin said. “She wanted to do it in front of her kids … that encourages them.”

About the program

The program is 20 weeks long, completed in sections and is free for the students.

Jake Gorges, adult education manager for the YWCA, helped put the program together and said it’s designed to give adults more of a classroom-type feel.

“People come in and do work instead of taking GED tests,” Gorges said. “They accomplish this like high schoolers.”

In the program, Gorges said students work on “workforce documents” like memos and emails to get them ready for the workforce.

“It’s applicable to the student because they’re most likely going to utilize this stuff at a later point in their life,” Gorges said.

The students have a year to complete the 20-week course, and if they miss more than one day in the first four weeks, they will have to start over.

Gorges said the program is continuously enrolling students. Currently there are two other groups that have started, which allows for faster completion of the program.

“We understand that life happens and sometimes it’s out of our control,” Gorges said. “The goal is if anybody falls off or anything happens during the class, there’s multiple entry points, multiple times where people can take a gap-time.”

New opportunities

Katie Kasprzak, GED outreach coordinator for Racine County Workforce Solutions, said that for these students, getting their HSED is the first step to get a better job.

“Most of our graduates are looking to gain new employment, or some of them are thinking about going on to school for a technical diploma or other classes,” Kasprzak said. “For a lot of people, it’s a program of growth and personal development … they’re getting more of out of it than just their high school equivalency diploma.”

An added benefit of the program is the students, for the most part, all start and finish the program together like a high school class.

“I think they like building those relationships and sharing the learning process with others,” Kasprzak said. “For many, it holds them accountable. They have to come to class every morning, keep up with attendance. It’s teaching them a lot of those soft skills that are going to transfer over to employment as well.”

“For a lot of people, it’s a program of growth and personal development … they’re getting more of out of it than just their high school equivalency diploma.” Katie Kasprzak, GED outreach coordinator for Racine County Workforce Solutions
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Reporter

Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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