As Amanda Mann addressed those in attendance at Haywood Community College’s GED and Adult High School Graduation Ceremony on February 6, she said, “Each and every graduate has worked hard to get to this point and each and every one of us have our own individual reasons as to why we are here tonight.”

That is precisely why the college’s Adult Basic Skills program works for everyone who enters the doors. Growing up, Mann did not think anything could stand in her way of graduating from high school. But in eighth grade, she became sick. Kidney stones requiring surgery was the beginning of what eventually kept her from walking across the stage with all the students she had been in school with for years.

During her junior year, Mann had more kidney stones. She also had her tonsils removed and bronchitis too many times to recall. She missed a lot of school.

“Although I had hospital and doctors notes for everything, even though I turned in all the missed work and passed my exams, I was still denied passing the actual classes.”

These circumstances are what brought Mann to HCC’s GED program. She is already enrolled in the school’s Certified Nursing Assistant class and the Associate in Science program. She intends to transfer to a four-year school and eventually become a pediatrician to help patients who may go through the same things she did.

“I now know that a GED and an Adult High School education are no different than if I had stayed at Pisgah,” Mann told those in attendance at graduation. “And I have learned that life is like chess. After the game, the king and the pawn are still put in the same box as equals.”

Unlike Mann, her GED classmate Ruth Robinson always knew what would stand in the way of her graduating from high school. It was the subject that was always her downfall-math. Robinson made it through 65 years without a GED but it was important to her to set a good example to her grandchildren. So she enrolled in the program at HCC.

“I was never able to help my daughters with their math homework,” Robinson said. “And I realize now what an absolute necessity a GED is to get a job.”

Robinson was able to acquire two jobs through the years without a GED. Now that she is ready to re-enter the workforce, she realizes that the times have changed.

The first year Robinson entered school as a child, she missed a lot of days due to sickness. “After that I always felt like I was trying to catch up with the other kids.”

During the graduation ceremony, Robinson was awarded an Inspiration Award. According to Joan Rivet, HCC GED Instructor, “Ruth Robinson is a real inspiration. She is very generous. She has wisdom and common sense. She gives encouragement. She demonstrates that learning is a lifetime adventure.”

“If I can do this anybody can,” Robinson says. “The teachers at HCC are the most wonderful.     With their encouragement and help and the determination on your part, anybody can do this.”

Other students who were presented awards include: Jared Scott Willett, AHS Award; Sheena P. Rowland, Women’s Job Corp. Sammons Award; and Juan Pena Mejia, Connie Lister Scholarship.

For additional information about obtaining a GED or HCC’s AHS Program, please call 627-4643.