05/09/08 — GED graduates walk stage at WCC's commencement

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GED graduates walk stage at WCC's commencement

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 9, 2008 2:03 PM

Toneiko Holloway's decision to return to school in August to get her high school diploma was the first of many battles she would encounter in the months to follow.

In addition to attending to her studies at Wayne Community College, the single mother of a 13-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter also juggled caring for a sick mother and illnesses of her own this year.

But perhaps the biggest obstacle was within herself.

"I felt that I could do it, that I had the potential, but I also felt I was too old," the 33-year-old said during graduation ceremonies Thursday night.

"But then I asked myself how badly I wanted it, and if I was persistent enough to get it, and the answer surprised me. I wanted it badly and I knew I could achieve it."

She prayed her way through, she said, bolstered by encouragement from family and friends to stay the course.

The culmination of those efforts came to fruition Thurs-day night when she received her high school diploma. The college graduated 355 basic skills students -- 105 from adult high school and 230 receiving General Educational Development, or GED, certificates.

"Today is the day of rewards, the pay-off for mind-exercising achievements," the graduation speaker told the audience.

She challenged her classmates to continue carrying the torch for knowledge.

"Let us not put our torches out and stop here. Let us continue on, continue to educate ourselves, to find new challenges to meet and conquer," she said. "An easy way to start is to encourage anyone you know, young or old, who stopped going to school, who dropped out and did not complete their education due to whatever circumstances, to go back to school ....

"Encourage them to take that first step toward improving their lives and their futures."

Ms. Holloway has taken her own advice, already meeting with her advisor about continuing her education at WCC and working toward a career as a juvenile probation officer.

It was Dr. Kay Albertson's first graduation ceremony since becoming president at the college. Her first order of business was to apologize for the event being moved to Moffatt Auditorium.

Threatening weather earlier in the day prompted her decision to move the ceremony indoors, she said, and may be the case again for this evening's curriculum graduation. Tonight's ceremony, slated for 6:30 p.m. outside, will be moved to 7 p.m. at First Assembly of God Church if it rains. In that event, only ticket holders will be admitted.

The smaller venue did not inhibit those in the audience, with friends and relatives vocally in their congratulations as graduates crossed the stage.

After adult high school graduate Zelmon Woods, Jr. acc-epted his diploma, a woman cried out, "That's my baby," prompting him to call back, "Thanks, Mama."

Later when Kwan Perkins, a GED program graduate, strode across the stage, a shout went up from the back of the auditorium.

"We're proud of you, Kwan," the woman said. "Hallelujah!"

After the tassels were turned and before the latest class of graduates was dismissed, Dr. Albertson offered them one final message.

"We want to know where the education we gave you is taking you. And like your mother, we'll still be here to help if you need us."