Ticket to dreams is an education

Photo: Willie Stringer

Willie Stringer of Blakely says his ticket to his dreams is education.

BLAKELY, Ga. – Willie Stringer said he wants to travel, but he realized his ticket to those dreams is an education.

“Looking around at the things I don’t have and the things I want, I realized I have to get an education,” the Blakely resident said.

Stringer has been out of high school for about seven years. He was within a couple of weeks of getting his diploma before he got into trouble and was kicked out of high school.

Now, Stringer is studying for his GED at Bainbridge State College’s Early County Center with the hopes of eventually pursuing a degree in business. “I want to do this to make myself better,” he said.

Recently, several students at the Early County Center told various stories of why they came to Bainbridge State for their GED. The common thread from each of them is that getting their GED is a little more urgent now because of the changes in the GED tests coming in January 2014, and that getting their GED will fulfill a desire to improve their life.

There is no charge for persons wanting to pursue a GED, which is equivalent to a high school diploma and necessary to enroll in college and most technical schools. The only costs incurred are when students go to a testing center to take the test.

In the case of Bainbridge State, if students attend study sessions for a minimum of 40 hours at one of the Bainbridge State centers in Decatur, Early, Miller or Seminole counties, the college’s Adult Education program has scholarships for students to take their GED, said Debbie McIntyre, coordinator of the program.

“All we want to have is your success,” McIntyre told the students. “We have a 95 percent passing rate for students who we send to the testing center for their GED.”

Fasiska Lyles of Blakely recently returned to finish her GED. After being out of school for 18 years, she did not do well on tests because she said she got nervous. That nervousness has faded and her dream of eventually becoming a licensed practical nurse is closer on the horizon.

Jennifer Eaford and Darlene F. Lavette, both from Blakely, have children who serve as role models.  In fact, Lavette said she pushes her children to get an education, so she said she needed to take heed. She said her 11-year-old and 14-year-old children see what their parents do, and she felt that to be a good parent, she needed to get her GED.

Eaford said one of her four children just graduated from high school and is now going to college in Jacksonville, Fla. Although her children serve as role models, her inspiration comes from within. “I just want to get my GED for myself.”

Bainbridge State GED centers

Early County: The center is at Bainbridge State’s Early County Center located at 40 Harold Reagan Drive in Blakely. Its hours are Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (229) 723-5122.

Decatur County: The center is the Bainbridge State College Shotwell Education Center, located at 315 S. Boulevard Drive (behind the Golden Corral at Bainbridge Mall). Its hours are Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Bainbridge State Adult Education Division at (229) 248-2517.

Miller County: The center is located at 96 Perry St. in Colquitt. Its hours are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Seminole County: The center is located at 203 E. Sixth St. in Donalsonville. Its hours are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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