Never too old to earn a diploma

City Heights residents were among the 1,049 graduates honored at the San Diego Continuing Education program’s commencement at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park on May 30. The ceremony was held in collaboration with the San Diego Unified School District’s Adult High School Diploma Program.

Most graduates are adults who have been away from the classroom for years. Approximately 425 graduates participated in the ceremony, including Marlene Manning, a City Heights resident who has taken English as a Second Language classes at Continuing Education’s Mid-City Campus, and also completed basic skills classes in preparation for the GED exam. She also is one of three recipients of a scholarship that awards $3,000 toward tuition and expenses at a college within the San Diego Community College District. Manning will attend City College in the fall. Her goal is to work toward an advanced degree at SDSU in the pre-dental program.

Dr. Grace Sousa was a keynote speaker at the event. She talked about her odyssey that included dropping out of school in the eighth grade and later pursuing a nontraditional educational pathway beginning in adult education classes for GED preparation. She ultimately earned a doctor of medicine degree.

Adult students make the decision to re-enter the classroom for a variety of reasons. Many have overcome challenging situations to earn their high school diplomas or prepare for the GED. This often is the first step toward earning a college degree. For others who are looking to enter or advance in the workforce within a short time frame, success means learning relevant job skills by completing specific training in a certificate program so they can get to work.

Awards this year included 184 GEDs, 399 high school diplomas, and 466 certificates of completion for career and technical education programs.

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Ranessa Ashton is the information officer for San Diego Community College District Continuing Education