GED leads to academic success for military man
James Kurth poses with his wife, Katy. Kurth overcame problems in high school to attain his GED at Victoria College and go on to earn bachelorís and masterís degrees while serving over two decades in the military.

Pursuing a college education was the farthest thing from James Kurth’s mind back in 1990.

After the death of his mother, Kurth moved from Corpus Christi to live with family in Victoria where he was thrust into a new high school setting in an unfamiliar city. Kurth was already struggling to graduate on time after missing too many class days at Calallen High School.

Thinking high school graduation was not in his future, Kurth joined the Texas Army National Guard in March 1990 and reported that summer to basic combat training in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

“I was put between a rock and a hard place,” Kurth said. “I could do another year of high school or just go to work. So I just decided to get my GED.”

Kurth attained his GED from VC in 1991. In the 25 years since, he attained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in information technology management, and served over two decades in the United States Navy and United States Army as a military analyst for the Department of Defense.

“Getting that GED at Victoria College was what catapulted my academic endeavors,” Kurth said. “It has made me what I am today.”

Kurth was motivated to get his GED so he could continue his military career.

“Part of my contract was to go back and finish my senior year so I could go back for additional training after that,” Kurth said. “I had to get my GED before the follow-up training. I elected at that point to go ahead and attend VC. I took the battery of tests and passed them.”

Kurth continued his college education while serving 7½ years in the Texas Army National Guard.

“I worked various jobs and went to college a little bit at a time,” Kurth said. “I wanted to get enough college credits that would give me the equivalent of being considered a high school graduate and enable me to go into active duty in the military.”

In December 1997, Kurth was accepted into the navy. While on leave in March 1998, Kurth married his hometown sweetheart, Katy Crouch. He was chosen in March 2005 to become a warrant officer with the army, where he served as command control systems integrator for the United States Air Defense and Airspace Management Cell.

Two years ago, Kurth and his wife moved back to Victoria with their two daughters – Madison, 13, and Bry, 10. Kurth now works as a private telecommunications contractor for Conoco and is creating a faith-based outreach group for veterans, Operation Not Forgotten, in the Golden Crescent area.

“Our organization’s mission is to provide programs for veterans and their families that develop mental, social, emotional and spiritual well-being,” Kurth said. “I miss the camaraderie, and trying to adjust back to civilian life was hard for me. I’m not alone in this.”

The group will hold meetings each Monday, beginning Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. at American Legion Post 166, 1402 E. Santa Rosa Street in Victoria.

Kurth was in attendance at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts on July 16 to watch his niece, Tabitha McCann, receive her GED from Victoria College. 

“It really took me back to see all the GED graduates and knowing that each of them had their own circumstances that drove them to take the GED route,” Kurth said.

Kurth encouraged high school students who feel they have no college future to re-examine their options and seek guidance from advisors and counselors.

“I wish I would have had the knowledge and perseverance to finish high school and have the understanding of how I could go to college,” Kurth said. “College just seemed like an insurmountable mountain for me at the time.

“There are people there at Victoria College who can walk students through the process. There are a number of ways people can get financial help. That’s a big mountain for some people. They think they can’t go to college because they don’t have the money. You just have to go to somebody and tell them, ‘I want to go to college. I don’t know what to do’ and VC will help.”
Published: Wednesday, 10 August 2016

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