For three mothers that recently participated in Haywood Community College’s Adult High School and High School Equivalency (formerly called GED) graduation ceremonies, it is evident that their children come first. Sometimes putting your children first means finishing something you started years ago.


Jazmine Clayton, Jasmine Crawford, and Crystal Cruz all decided to come back to school to help their children. Whether it is making a better life for them by getting a better job or by showing them how important education is, these moms returned to school and became positive role models.

Clayton finished HCC’s Adult High School Program to get a job with better pay. “I was working in an environment with negative attitudes,” she explains. “I was a single mom working both full and part-time jobs and could never make ends meet.”

Now since finishing the program at HCC, she is enrolled at a nearby college in the Radiology Program. Clayton says, “Whoever thinks they cannot come back to school and finish the program, they need to look at my life and see. If it’s what they really want, they won’t see any boundaries.”

Crawford also did not let boundaries get in her way. She recently finished the High School Equivalency right before she had her baby.

After quitting high school 5 years ago, she decided it was time to come back to school. “I had jobs all along but I noticed people around me were getting paid more.”

As soon as Crawford finished the program, she started the Nurse Aide program at HCC. She is getting ready to finish it and then hopes to start the nursing program.

Cruz finished HCC’s High School Equivalency program by attending classes at North Canton Elementary School. She says the location was very convenient for her because it was close to both her home and job. 

Soon after finishing the program, Cruz was promoted to assistant manager at Ingles.

After being out of school 15 years, Cruz came back because she wanted to teach her children how important education is. “I saw the trouble my kids were having in school,” she explains. “They wanted to give up. Education is the most important thing you can ever have.”

Going through the program, Cruz says she was able to work with her older children. “We helped each other. I would know some of the things they weren’t clear on and they would also help me on some things.”

Cruz says the instructors at HCC worked with her by staying late or even meeting her when class wasn’t scheduled. “There were points where I wanted to give up. The instructors gave me the confidence to finish.”

“My kids are my world,” Cruz says. Her actions prove it.

HCC held a High School Equivalency Diploma and Adult High School Graduation Ceremony recently where more than 60 students were honored. The Adult High School award winner was Jazmine Clayton. High School Equivalency Diploma award winner was Jose Villalon.

Day, evening, and online classes are available through the College and Career Readiness Department. Anyone interested in obtaining a High School Equivalency Diploma may choose from two convenient options: the traditional classroom setting or online classes. For additional information about obtaining a High School Equivalency Diploma or HCC’s AHS Program, please call 627-4648.

 Photos by Aaron Mabry.