Saturday, July 11, 2015

GED and High School Diploma Success Stories

From San Mateo County Times (July 2015) Columnist Carolyn Livengood,
a story of why Adult Education matters:
Proud San Mateo Adult School 2015 Graduates
Photo Credit: Tom Jung

San Mateo Adult School awards 44 high school diplomas, 31 GED certificates

San Mateo Adult School awarded 44 high school diplomas and 31 GED certificates at its annual graduation ceremony held June 17 for graduates ranging in age from 17 to 51 years old this year.

Mr. T and Graduate
Photo Credit:  Tom Jung
About 180 people, including 24 of the 75 total graduates, attended the annual graduation ceremony held June 17 at the College of San Mateo. Graduate Rebeca Zuleta, who earned two scholarships, and Director Lawrence "Larry" Teshara, known affectionately as "Mr. T" by the students, welcomed them to the event.

The adult school, part of the San Mateo Union High School District, is at The SMART Center in San Mateo. Scholarship awards, totaling $15,050 were presented to 15 students. The winners, their city of residence, and their scholarship donors are:

* Rebeca Zuleta, of Fremont (formerly San Mateo), John and Lisa Nelson.
* Megan Tzoc, Burlingame, William E. and Janet J. Price.
* Jose Pina, Redwood City, San Mateo Masonic Lodge #226.
* Marlon Ticas, San Bruno, Burlingame Masonic Lodge No. 400.
* Debra Benavides, Redwood City; Martha Contreras, San Mateo; Carmen Rivera, Burlingame; and Rebeca Zuleta; Burlingame Bodies of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.
* Nathan Nack, San Mateo, Jenny Bratton/GED.
* Mario Gomez, San Mateo, Rotary Club of Foster City.
* Felipe Diaz Vega, San Mateo; Ai-Chu Huang, Millbrae. and Darlyng Lopez, San Bruno; Lynda Mathe Memorial;
* Brian Zamora, San Mateo, Steven Paul Friedman Foundation.
* Isabella Cavett, Belmont, Golden Gate Commandery No.16.
* Fernando Zelaya, San Mateo, Shipman Family (in honor of Lawrence Teshara).

Mario Gomez speaking at Graduation 2015
Photo Credit:  Tom Jung
The student speakers, who shared their stories of overcoming challenges in their life in order to graduate, were: Mario Gomez, Debra Benavides, Jose Pina, Brian Zamora, Isabella Cavett, and Fernando Zelaya.

"The San Mateo Adult School provided an alternative for me at a point in my life when I thought all else was gone," Fernando Zelaya said. "I recently moved from Mississippi to California to finish up my last year of school. I started my senior year attending San Mateo High School.

"I never had the problem of attending school, but this year nothing seemed to go right for me, especially at home. Adapting to a new school, new classmates, new family members, and having to work to pay bills, all these challenges coming my way and I didn't know what to do. My grades were significantly going down, my attendance was getting worse by the weeks, and stress was getting worse by the day.
Graduate speaking
Photo Credit:  2015

"Soon I was called by the counselor of my school to talk about my situation. I was given the opportunity to finish my work on my own times. After a few weeks of attending, I realized I wasn't the only one with personal problems there. I saw the determination in each one of us. I saw that no matter what was happening outside of school, we were still going to strive for our success. Along with the awesome staff at San Mateo Adult School working hard to help us achieve our goals, I think I can say that we have made it here today."

Robert Graffin and Graduate Mario Gomez
Photo Credit:  Tom Jung

Robert Griffin, clerk, San Mateo Union High School District board of trustees, gave closing remarks to the graduates.

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