A record-breaking 95 people walked across the stage at Tyler Junior College on Thursday as part of the General Education Development (GED) program with the Literacy Council of Tyler.
“It’s exciting,” said Manuel Rojas, one of the GED students. “I worked hard for this. I’m glad I made it. I’m ready to start college.”
Rojas had been out of school for more than 30 years, he said, but decided to try and make a change.
The auditorium buzzed with excitement and cheers as families gathered to support the students who had spent weeks in classes and studying for the exam.
This past year, about 200 students have earned their GED with the help of Literacy Council of Tyler.
Tyler Junior College history teacher Dr. Tom Johnson shared stories about his own educational journey, as well as how a GED program changed his brother’s life. Johnson was a “special ed kid” who was not diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia until later in life.
“I spent two years in second grade, not because I was held back, but because I flat out failed,” he said.
Now, in addition to being an adjunct history teacher at TJC, he is the executive director of campus police and the director of TJC’s law enforcement academy. Johnson holds five degrees.
“I am so proud of you,” he said to the group of graduates. “Today is your day, you earned it.”
Education is important, Johnson said, but it’s OK that not everyone does it the same way.
“Each one of us have our own journey,” he said. “There isn’t one formula for education. It’s like a recipe; some of us have to simmer a little longer. The great thing about you GED graduates is you did not give up.”
Literacy Council of Tyler will be celebrating 25 years of service next year. LCOT was established in 1990 to provide literacy services to adults in the East Texas area, with 30 students in the program that first year, according to the written release. Now, LCOT serves an average of 2,300 adult students annually, utilizing about 300 volunteers. In partnership with Tyler Junior College, LCOT provides GED preparation, English as a second language instruction, academic advising, basic literacy instruction and workplace literacy instruction for local businesses and industry. Located in the Regional Training and Development Complex on TJC’s West Campus, LCOT continues to serve adults in Tyler and the surrounding area with free public education