For people like Rashad Marshall and his mother, Dana, Thursday was a night of triumph. Marshall, 21, was one of 109 graduates who received diplomas from the Adult Learning Center.
With a smile etched across his face, Marshall posed proudly for pictures in his gown after the ceremony. He hugged and huddled with family members, waves of joy washing over him, happy to have finished his studies.
“It was a great program,” he said. “It just takes some effort and motivation to get it done. Once you get in, sit down and actually do the work, it’s pretty easy. (But) you gotta get your head on straight if you really want to get it done.”
And Marshall’s head and focus have been fixed, which was clear from his mother’s joyful expression at the ceremony.
“I’m just so grateful, thankful that he got it done,” she said.
Many of the newest graduates had resumed their education after long breaks. Among them was Debbie Buchholtz, 58, who had dropped out during her senior year back in 1972.
All Buchholtz ever wanted was to be a wife and mother. She got married at 17 and had her first child within a couple of years.
“You didn’t need a degree to be a wife and mother,” she said. “Now I think everybody should have a degree to be a wife and mother.”
As Buchholtz grew older, she started to see that education was more worthwhile than she had ever imagined. With her children grown, she decided to contact the Adult Education Center.
“It was the best thing I ever did in my whole life,” she said. “I waited 40 years for this.”
For other graduates, the ceremony signified a step ahead. Josh Hoke, 17, for instance, decided to test out of high school early, so he could get a head start on college.
“I don’t want to say that high school is a waste of time; it’s just that I was bored with it,” Hoke said. “If you’re gifted and you’re not feeling challenged enough, this program is a great idea. You’re getting a high school diploma. ... but you’re getting it two years faster.”
Though the night was about triumphs and acknowledging goals reached, it was also tinged with hope for the future. There was lots of talk of what’s to come.
For Marshall, he’s thinking computer science at a university. “I want to go to college ... get a career,” he said.