For Christian Green, walking across the stage Tuesday, June 4, to receive his GED diploma was not the completion of his high school career, but the beginning of good things to come.
“Bad things stopped happening to me, and good things started happening to me. Like this. It took me three months at most to get my GED. I was praying and praying that I would get it, and I got it,” said the 17-year-old Bainbridge resident. “I’m going to make something of myself. Show everybody that I’m not a failure.”
Green’s sentiment was echoed among several of those who were cheered, applauded and acknowledged as high school graduates Tuesday at the Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center. Another sentiment expressed was that these students did not quit, despite personal challenges or setbacks.
For example, Green. He was kicked out of school in the 10th grade because he said he was hanging around the wrong crowd: Peers who wanted to pick fights, skip classes or weight training sessions, or get in trouble during football practice. “Just no good,” he said.
One day he said he turned a page and cut loose from those peers.
“Good things started to happen,” Green said. “It’s a real turn-around from everybody thinking that I wasn’t going to be anything, to now that I can be anything that I want to be.”
The ceremony’s student speaker, Shadowa DeVane, recounted the first few days she started at Bainbridge State College’s Adult Education GED program and how the staff and faculty members made her feel special.
“They just bring so much excitement in your life that you just want to keep going to the school,” DeVane said, adding that the graduation ceremony capped off her experience.
“This is an amazing feeling, not just for me, but for all of you,” DeVane told her classmates. “I’m so happy to be here, and I know you all are too.”
Dr. Richard Carvajal, BSC president and the ceremony’s keynote speaker, told of his personal encounters with poverty, homelessness, prejudice and criminal intimidation, and said the 24 graduates and their families and friends in the audience perhaps have similar stories. “Instead of my story being special, what I’ve come to realize is that it is entirely normal.”
“Because you guys have overcome the obstacles that stood in your way, because you have earned the right to participate in this program here tonight, I’m absolutely of the belief that this is just the beginning for you too; the first sign that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to,” Dr. Carvajal said.
The college president told the graduates to make their goals huge; so big in fact that even six months ago they would not have ever seemed possible. “That’s a good place to start,” Dr. Carvajal said.
He relayed how years ago when the obstacles seemed the worst, someone gave him a wall hanging with the poem “Don’t quit” written on it. To this day, Dr. Carvajal said he reads the poem every day he is in his office, where that special wall hanging is.
“Graduates, all of you have overcome significant obstacles in your life to get to this point,” Dr. Carvajal said. “The fact that you are here tonight is evidence enough that you didn’t quit either.”
Terence Green said he had to miss a previous GED graduation ceremony and made a point of walking across the stage Tuesday to receive his diploma. He hopes to return to BSC to earn a degree in business and learn a trade.
“Maybe I will walk across the stage again, but for college,” the 25-year-old Bainbridge resident said. “That will be an even greater achievement.”
The following students graduating are listed alphabetically and by city:
Bainbridge: Casey Marie Alday, Jordan Elise Carroll, Jessica Mackayla Dunn, Christian Bernard Green, Terence Green, Marticia Leona James, William Monroe Johnson Jr., Vanessa Jordan, Stacey Denise Meredith, Melody Star Nelson, Brenda Marisol Ortiz, Zackery Dale Poole and Sharod Marcel Rivers.
Blakely: Zy’Ronica Sharontae Hardrick and Jesse Jerome Henderson.
Brinson: Jenira Castillo and Shadowa DeVane.
Calvary: Brandy Carter
Colquitt: Katie Lee Cox and Ronald E. Cross Jr.
Donalsonville: Diamond Alexandria Cunningham, Elizabeth Gabauer, Latoya Danisha Johnson and Kenya Lashawn Turner.
Whigham: Anthony Lesser.
For more information about GED classes through Bainbridge State College, please contact BSC’s Adult Education Center at (229) 248-2517 or visit it at 316 S. Boulevard Dr. at Bainbridge Mall.