‘Never Give Up’ Is More Than A Motto To Adult Education Student Kelly

Published on: February 1, 2021
Adult education student, Lisa Kelly, is on the verge of earning her GED from GTCC.

Lisa Kelly understands the value of perseverance.

When she was 16, she was forced to leave high school to help care for her six siblings. A decade later, she enrolled in Guilford Technical Community College’s adult education program, only to be blindsided by life.

But today the 36-year-old Kelly is immersed in GTCC’s adult education program again and is on course to complete the program this spring.

As a teenager living in Florida, Kelly was a solid student with a 3.7 GPA. But then her family moved to North Carolina and her secondary education came to a screeching halt. Her father was incarcerated, and her mother was struggling to raise seven children alone. Her mother needed Lisa, the oldest of the seven children, to leave school and go to work to help support the family.

And thus, began her journey of working to help her mother and siblings, and later her own four children, while keeping the dream of a high school education alive.

Kelly made an earnest effort to get back on track in 2012 when she first enrolled in the GTCC adult education program. She still fondly remembers her first math teacher at GTCC, J.D. Rhodes for teaching her to love math despite her earlier fear of the subject and embarrassment of not having completed it in high school.

She recalls being on the road to completing her GED in 2012 when she got a call that her house had been broken in to and had to leave a testing session. Again, her plans were thwarted by a happenstance of life.

Last summer Kelly discovered GTCC’s online options for adult education and decided it was the perfect time and circumstances to try to complete the program again. She has thrived in the Zoom environment, quickly discovering that it remained easy to connect with teachers and fellow students while learning virtually. She is a stay-at-home mom these days and the flexibility of virtual learning worked perfectly for her to finally finish her high school degree.

Lisa passed one official GED test in the fall of 2020 and is looking forward to completing the remaining three tests this spring. She has already volunteered to be a student speaker at GTCC’s annual adult education graduation.

Kelly is appreciative of the support of the United Way, which provided funds for vouchers to pay for her GED exams and for a student advisor to help coach her, get her registered for the correct classes, and provide career advice. 

Once she has earned her GED, Kelly’s next short-term goal is to become certified as a notary public to launch a mobile notary business. Her long-term goal is to earn a law degree. 

She has a simple message to current and future adult education students that comes from her own perseverance.

“Don’t give up; you must push for your education no matter what,” she said. “You may be smart, attractive, and so many other things, but you really will need that official degree or diploma to be able to move forward in your career and in your life.”

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