Getting GED proves to be life-changing event
Joanne Williams
Joanne Williams poses with Victoria College President Dr. David Hinds during the July 16 graduation ceremony for GED students at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts.

Joanne Williams was reminded of something during her oldest child’s high school graduation ceremony a year ago.

Williams dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to have her first of four children. Williams never went back, but she did make a promise to herself that she had forgotten until watching her first child walk the stage.

“That (promise) was to get my GED, further my education and find a career,” Williams said.

On July 16, Williams and 17 other Victoria College adult education students received their GED certificates at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts. A total of 111 students obtained their high school equivalency through the Texas Workforce Commission Adult Education and Literacy grant.

“If I had not made that promise to myself so many years ago, I would have given up trying to reach my goal of receiving my GED,” Williams said. “I got lost in my busy life and forgot my own promise. My daughter’s graduation got me thinking about it again. I decided it was time to achieve my goal.”

Williams made the 100-mile roundtrip between her hometown of Runge and Victoria three or four times a week over a six-month period. That and being a single parent of four children were the biggest challenges she faced to achieve her dream.

“I ran into some tough issues,” Williams said. “It cost me a lot of money in gas for me to drive back and forth from Runge to class. I had to worry about who was going to pick up my kids from school.”

Williams also had to overcome an illness that caused her to miss three weeks of class.

“After that, I came back more determined than ever to pursue my GED,” Williams said.

Williams earned her GED in February.

“I cried and laughed at the same time,” she said. “The best day I ever had was waiting for my kids to come home from school that day to tell them. They were so proud of me. They told me, ‘Mom, I knew you could do it!’ “

The following Monday, Williams applied for a job at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Kenedy. She was hired after passing a preliminary test and went on to graduate from the TDCJ Academy in Beeville in April. She now works as a corrections officer at the Connally Unit in Kenedy.

“I was so shocked that everything was falling into place just by getting my GED,” Williams said. “But I’m not stopping here. I want to reach another goal by getting an education where it all started – Victoria College.”

Williams thanked Victoria College for encouraging her to not give up.

“The adult education staff was beyond helpful,” Williams said. “I am forever grateful to them for helping me step by step through each subject.”

Williams said obtaining her GED was a life-changing event for not only her, but also her entire family.

“Now I can provide for myself and my children,” Williams said. “It showed my children that it’s never too late to put your mind to something and make it happen.”
Published: Tuesday, 19 July 2016

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