JCJC holds GED Graduation Ceremony

Written By: Kelly Atwood
Email Address: kelly.atwood@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2014-07-22 14:12:55

   The evening of July 21 was more than a night to receive a GED certificate. It was a night to be thankful, an occasion to rejoice and a time to find a purpose for the future.

   “I’m feeling blessed,” said Benjamin Wilson after being named the recipient of two scholarships during Jones County Junior College’s GED Graduation Ceremony, held in the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium. “It feels good to see the work I invested in myself and my studies produce a fruit like this. It really is one of my greatest investments. I know I’m not the only one that worked hard for this day, but it surely is my honor to receive these awards. I’m especially thankful to God for helping me prepare myself for this time of my life. To Him be the glory.”

   JCJC President Dr. Jesse Smith, the keynote speaker for the evening, reminded students that the challenges they’ve faced in life have made them stronger.

   “I want you to remember three things: You are beautifully and wonderfully made.  You were made for a purpose. And to reference James 1:2 ‘Count it all joy’,” he said.

     Student speaker Monkikiee Jenkins said having her GED means more opportunities, and she named and thanked her instructors during her speech.

   “I thank you for not giving up on me,” Jenkins said. “No matter where I go in life, I’ll always remember I started here with my GED.”

    There were 567 people eligible to participate in the evening’s ceremony. The students who received the highest score from each of the college’s eight counties received a full tuition scholarship to the college, and the student with the top GED score overall received a Foundation Scholarship. This year’s Foundation Scholarship recipient was Benjamin Wilson of Laurel.

    Wilson’s two sisters, Alicia Anne, 19 and Hannah Lynne, 17, also participated in the GED ceremony.

   “(Graduation is) a special thing to be able to do with your siblings,” Benjamin said. “I think it’s going to be extra special for our family too. We have family who came from out of town and will have a family get together afterwards. I’m excited about it.”

    The Wilsons, of Laurel, were home schooled. Benjamin said he had never considered receiving his GED from Jones until he and his family attended one of the college’s GED graduations for another home schooled student and were impressed by what they saw.

  Benjamin was the first to attend the GED classes at Jones, which he started in Fall 2013.  After coming home and talking about his classes, his sisters became interested and joined him.

    Being different ages, the trio were always in different grades while in home school. The GED class was the first time they were able to share a classroom experience, and they shared the same instructor, Caleb Smith.

    “I thought it was pretty cool because if I had questions I could ask (my siblings),” said Hannah. “For me the transition from home school to the GED classes was easy. My teacher Mr. Smith made you laugh. I was really tense and nervous at first, but he made it fun. You could relax and learn.”

    Hannah, who is about to start her junior year in high school, took the GED classes and test while in the 10th grade, at the age of 16.

    “I thought it would be a good experience to see what it was like in a college environment,” she said. “I loved it here. I was always scared of the idea of college, but everybody here is great.”

   JCJC was also older sister’s Alicia’s first time on a college campus, and she said she also had a positive experience.

    “My teacher Caleb Smith was absolutely the best,” said Alicia. “He was the only teacher I had. I tested and made it to the difficult level so I just stayed in his class. He was so easy to understand and made it fun. It was good to be in class with my brother and sister. It made it a lot more comfortable too.”

   GED instructor Caleb Smith had just as nice comments to say about the Wilsons.    

    “They are an amazing family,” he said. “They are very hardworking. They make coming to work a pleasure. You can tell the family they come from really care about them and their future by the attitude they have about school.”

    Benjamin did so well in the GED program that his instructors suggested he enroll in Jones for the Spring 2014 semester. He is currently in the commercial residential maintenance program with plans to enroll in the welding program.

   “I have a heart for Jones, and I would like to say a big thank you to my awesome, awesome instructors who helped me prepare for my GED,” said Benjamin.

    The ABE/GED program has homeschooled students go through its program regularly.

   “We’ve worked really hard to build a relationship with home school organizations,” said Jennifer Griffith, director of adult basic education. “Home schooled students who have been diligent in their studies make a very easy transition into the GED test. All three of the Wilsons did well. It’s very clear that they were dedicated to their home studies. When they came here all the teachers needed to do was give them the tools they needed to be successful on the test.”

   Alicia’s future plans include taking the ACT and going to Bible College in Missouri.

   “I would definitely encourage people thinking about getting their GED to get it,” said Alicia. “It’s another accomplishment in life. I think if people do it they’ll be glad they got it.”

   Benjamin’s future plans include working in construction and possibly starting a welding business. He ends talk of his future plans much like his sisters did, with the will of God in mind.

    “I’m not really sure what the Lord has planned for me, but I want to do what’s right.”


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