JCJC GED Graduates are Inspired to Aspire for a Better Future

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: Teresa.marting@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2011-07-25 14:23:25

ELLISVILLE – Finding the motivation to return to school isn’t always easy. This year, a record number of 446 students from the Jones County Junior College GED program found a way to earn their degrees, like Justin Jefcoat of Laurel. 
“He worked so hard,” said Terrie Hilbun, Jones County GED examiner. “Everyone cried when they heard he passed.”
Besides his diploma, Jefcoat received a Kindle E-reader that was donated by Life Church in Laurel because of his determination. Jefcoat said he realized how hard it was to make a living without a quality education so he had to make a change.
 “I didn’t have any motivation to stay in school,” said Jefcoat. “I knew I needed to change but I kept putting it off until I realized I couldn’t put it off any longer….But I’m going to make something of myself now.”
After overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles he persevered with the help of classmates and his teachers. 
“He has been transformed inside and out,” said Shirley Craft, one of Jefcoat’s teachers. “This just did so much for him, especially after he started passing tests. His classmates were glad for him because he had to overcome transportation issues, family issues, and quitting school in ninth grade. He really didn’t have anything to look forward to in life.”
In some ways, Jefcoat could relate to keynote speaker, Jeremy Graham. The former New Orleans native is now the Youth President of the Epicenter Church Incorporated in Jackson. Graham is also a GED recipient. He explained to the audience he was 17 when he dropped out of school, got involved with drugs and gangs and didn’t see education as being important in his life. After a couple of attempts, Graham earned his Associate’s degree from Hinds Community College with a 3.2 GPA and is a member of the international business honor society, Alpha Beta Gamma. Graham admitted to also not having any direction in his life. 
“I got caught up with the wrong crowd,” said Graham. “Getting my GED opened the door. It all started with my GED. Now I have a better future and more opportunities. Let your GED open doors for you,” encouraged Graham. 
The Mississippi College student shared his vision with the graduates, “I see doctors, lawyers, teachers, business leaders, ministers and more in the audience, graduates. Do your best, and sow your harvest. Be successful and let your GED open doors for you.”
Eight graduates received a little extra financial help for their hard work because they earned the top spot in each of their counties. Each GED high-scorer in the eight represented counties received a full tuition scholarship to JCJC. Scholarship recipients include: Clarke County - Cassie DiMauro; Covington County - Keirstein Brogdon; Greene County. - Daniel Sanford; Jasper County - Janet Ray; Jones County - Amy Altland; Perry County - Matthew Hinton; Smith County - Jonathan Davis; Wayne County - Amanda Holifield. 
Additionally, two students received E-Kindle readers, explained JCJC Adult Education director, Jennifer Griffith. She added, “Life Church Pastor David Hagan was so impressed with the graduates and the program, he said the church wanted to reward two Jones County students for their initiative. He was the keynote speaker at the GED graduation last year.” 
The recipients were Jefcoat and Ellisville’s Amy Altland. She received a Kindle E-reader because The 17 year-old was Jones County’s high-scorer. She said her baby was her motivation to get her degree. 
“I couldn’t do anything for her without my high school diploma,” said Altland. “It was hard to leave her (my baby) but I know it’s for her and it will help her.” 
Altland’s pregnancy also helped her decide on a career choice. “My pregnancy inspired me to pursue a career in ultrasound at JCJC. I think I would like telling moms about their babies.” 
Greene County’s Daniel Sanford was this year’s overall GED high-scorer, earning him a $500 JCJC Foundation Inc. Scholarship and a full-tuition scholarship.   The engineering major also earned a half-tuition scholarship with his ACT score. 
“Daniel is a very focused student,” said David Clark, the Greene County GED teacher. “Because his home-school program was not accredited he had to earn his GED before he could go to college.”
Griffith attributes the success of this year’s class and the growth of the program to its staff. “The great team of Adult Education instructors, staff and GED examiners is dedicated to helping others. Having a very supportive administration and State College Board, along with terrific support from local elected officials also makes the ability to change lives through educational advancement possible.”
JCJC’s GED classes for the fall semester begin Monday, August 15. Call 601-477-4164 for more information.   


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