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Monday
May 27th, 2019

ged 2019 ceremonyOne of the graduates at Saturday’s GED ceremony smiles as she prepares to receive her diploma. Many were on hand Saturday to congratulate the graduates on their accomplishment. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The Showcase Theater on the Seward County Community College campus was filled to capacity Saturday afternoon for those wanting to congratulate those graduating from the Colvin Adult Learning Center’s GED program. 

The ceremony kicked off with congratulatory remarks from SCCC President Dr. Ken Trzaska. 

“This is the first step in a very long journey, so congratulations graduates on the perseverance and grit you put in to get to this point in your lives,” Trzaska said. “First and foremost, I challenge you to continuously not shy away from the challenges ahead, even though many of those challenges will be unfamiliar to you and a little scary at times. But your true character will come through in the way you face those challenges and those individuals who may say ‘I don’t think you can do this.’ Always look at yourself as your worst enemy and your best advocate. Reflect before acting and always think hard before taking that next step, and never be afraid to step back one or two steps before taking a number of steps forward. Always seek and refine and improve not only yourself, but those around you. Think of your journey here today, think of everyone in this room who’s helped you get here – how do you carry that forward as a leader in the work you’ll do going forward? Know what you know and what you don’t know – to me, this is about continuing to improve on your journey. Never assume you know everything, never assume you’re an expert, and be afraid to take a couple steps back and ask yourself ‘What could I learn from this so I can do even better?’”

Trzaska also talked to the graduates about finding a positive environment to continue their growth. 

“Know your own self-worth, because that’s going to be between you and you. Surround yourself with those who believe in you as much as you believe in yourself and engage with an environment that will help guide you in a good way,” Trzaska said. “Develop raw courage and don’t be afraid to take steps that may disappoint or upset or frustrate those around you – as long as you’re doing what’s in your best interests and for your family and community, that’s what matters. Also fail as yourself – don’t fail because someone said ‘I think you should go this direction’ and you fail. So fail as yourself and not as someone else wants you to. Also, participate actively in everything you do – there’s no such thing as being one foot in and one foot out. You’re either all in or all out. Think about your journey here today and think, were you 10 percent in and showed up every other day, or did you give it 100 percent and attend class every day? Think of ways you can continue that. Also, be honest – be honest with yourself, be honest with your family, be honest with your community, and be honest to your heart and what’s driving you as an individual. I’m very proud of all of you and I know everyone here wants to see you continue on your journey.”

Haydee Amparan, 2016 KSHSD graduate, then spoke to the gathered graduates. 

“I want to first congratulate the Class of 2019, you all have fought the education battle and gained victory over your future,” Amparan said. “Three years ago I was sitting where you are right now, feeling really nervous about what the future would be like, but I also remember how proud I was of myself. All of you should also feel proud of yourselves and how far you’ve come. Every single one of you made a decision that would impact the rest of your lives, and that decision was to complete the GED program. Had you asked me three years ago if I saw myself finishing my GED, I would have told you no. I never thought I would finish and fast-forward to today, I not only completed my GED, I also completed the CMA and CNA programs, and last Saturday I graduated from SCCC with my Associate’s in Science. I’d like to thank Travis [Combs] and my other teachers for pushing me because three years ago, I didn’t think myself capable of achieving my dreams and I thought I was incompetent and too stupid to learn. But they pushed me and throughout the time I was in the program, myself and six other students would joke about how Travis was our mother bird since we felt like newborn chicks afraid to fly away from the nest. Those first steps out of the nest were terrifying but ultimately were important to getting us where we needed to go. We frequently asked ourselves ‘How does he think we’re going to pass actual college classes?’ but we did. By the end of the program our mother bird had helped grow our confidence and pushed us out of the nest so we could fly. Your education will go only as far as you take it, so keep going, keep fighting and keep believing in yourself. Congratulations again, you did it.”

The final speaker for the afternoon was GED State Relations Manager Liz Lanphear. 

“On behalf of the GED testing service, I want to congratulate all of you on the major accomplishment you’ve just achieved in your lives,” Lamphear said. “I’d first like to share some numbers with you. If I went over to the high school and picked 100 of the graduating seniors and asked them to take the GED test or else not receive their diploma, only 60 of them would get to graduate – that’s how important what you just accomplished is. So if anyone ever tells you ‘You just got your GED,’ say back ‘No, you just got your high school diploma.’ Be proud of what you just did and hold your head high. I’d also like to share a story – there was a gentleman who was working at a good job and after some time, he was told he was going to lose his job if he didn’t take the high school equivalency test. So he went and studied and traveled 50 miles to and from work, though he wasn’t entirely sure how he’d make it happen since he also had a family. But just like each of you, he found out how to make it happen. He studied, passed the test and was able to keep his job. He received several promotions, became an engineer and ended up being an engineer contracted to NASA and worked on space shuttles as the senior test engineer. The limits are only yours, you have the skills and ability to go far in life and be anything you want, so the rest is up to you. Each of you has a story and if you share that story, you can inspire others to do what you did – there are people in this audience today who may need inspiration from what you just did, or maybe it’s someone you work with. And I don’t know if you’ve thought about this, but you have changed the future for your children you have now and any children you have later on. And the reason I say that emphatically is because the man in my story is my father. Had he not gone and made those sacrifices, just like you did, I have no idea what my future would be like, but I wouldn’t be standing today in front of you. You have changed the future for the next generation and that’s such a big accomplishment, so be very proud of what you’ve done.”

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