Melissa Clark adjusts Amy Cook’s tassel as Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Adult Basic Education graduates wait outside to enter the Performing Arts Center for commencement ceremonies, Thursday evening. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Cheers and shouts came from ecstatic friends and family of 64 GED graduates who received their high school equivalent certificates Thursday from ENMU-R’s Adult Basic Education Department at the 24th annual GED High School Completion ceremony.
The GED program allows individuals to take General Education Development tests to demonstrate a high school equivalent level of knowledge, and the program has helped open opportunities for more than 10 million adults since 1942.
This year’s speakers focused largely on the importance of constructing a strong foundation in order to build a successful future.
“The meaning of foundation is the basis or groundwork of anything,” said student speaker James Kelly, who was inspired and motivated to receive his GED after his son was born. For him, the GED is a starting point for a better future.
“We have started to build our foundation with obtaining our GED,” he continued. “Getting your GED is a great way to start building that foundation, but it shouldn’t stop there.”
Kelly also spoke about the importance of not only an academic foundation, but of the importance in having character.
“Another thought on foundation comes from one of our past presidents, Calvin Coolidge, and he said, ‘Character is the only secure foundation,’” Kelly said. “See, character must be the foundation that we build upon because knowledge without character is useless.”
Guest speaker Brad McGrath continued on the theme of a foundation.
“For all of you tonight, the GED is as much as you want it to be,” McGrath told the graduates. “Really, it’s a key … now it’s up to you to take that key, and do whatever you want with it. Open that door, and once you open that door there’s just a huge amount of opportunity waiting for you.”
A GED graduate himself, McGrath went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University and a law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law. He is currently the chief facilities officer for the Department of Health in New Mexico.
His life is living testament to his statement that a GED is merely a building block for a better future.
“It’s amazing how far you can go with a GED,” McGrath said.
The students proudly smiled out at the supportive audience as they each received their “key” to new opportunities.
As Kelly put it, “Everything we want is in front of us, all we have to do is take it.”