by Diane VanDyke
Montgomery County Community College held its Spring GED Graduation ceremony on April 27 for 57 students who earned their General Education Diplomas.
Families and friends gathered to watch the graduates receive their framed diplomas during the evening ceremony at West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown.
President Dr. Karen A. Stout congratulated the students and encouraged them to continue their educational endeavors.
“It was not easy to make this commitment, but you did it,” Dr. Stout said. “After you celebrate, think about your next commitment. Take a class here this summer and then in the fall. Get your associate’s degree. Go on, one step at a time.”
Dr. Stout said since the program started in May 2006, 584 students graduated, and the students’ pass rate on the first attempt is 86 percent.
The keynote speaker, Executive Director David W. Kraybill of the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation, encouraged the graduates to live healthy, productive lifestyles.
“Invest in yourself and your health, not only for yourselves, but for your families and the Pottstown community,” he said.
Established in 2003 from the proceeds of the sale of Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, the Foundation, under Kraybill’s leadership, focuses on nutrition and physical activity in schools, access to primary and behavioral health care services, non-profit infrastructure and recreation and planning for communities.
The GED graduate speaker Lorraine McCalvin, Pottstown, described how attaining her GED was a huge accomplishment that made her feel good about herself.
“Getting my GED filled a gap in my life,” she said. “It showed my kids that when we make mistakes we can correct them. There is always room for change in our lives.”
McCalvin plans to take a Certified Nursing Assistant course at a local nursing home and then return to Montgomery County Community College to take more classes.
“My family has been very encouraging,” she said. “They told me to ‘think positive, have faith and everything will fall into place’ and it has.”
WIB Chairman Harvey Portner, who has attended every GED ceremony since the program started, told the graduates, “Don’t let this be the end. Our culture requires more than the minimum. Right now, you have the minimum, but you need to go beyond.”
Achieving this milestone through the College’s 64-hour program proved to many graduates that they have the determination and ability to take the next step.
“This (GED) matters the world to me,” said Catherine Kollar, Pottstown, who plans on taking more courses. “It took me 30 years to do it, but I did it.”
The College offers this free GED Preparation Program in partnership with the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB). Program candidates are recruited and screened by Pennsylvania Career Link. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has certified the College as public GED location.