Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter holds 37th grad­u­a­tion

Speak­ers dis­cuss road to Mary­land diploma

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

The month of Oc­to­ber isn’t gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with grad­u­a­tions — and de­spite the gowns and tas­sels, the event Thurs­day evening at North Point High School was not your typ­i­cal grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony, ei­ther.

“This grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony cel­e­brates a special and joy­ous oc­ca­sion that has been many years in the mak­ing,” said Li­ti­tia War­ren, in­struc­tional spe­cial­ist at the Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter.

The cen­ter, housed at the Robert D. Stethem Ed­u­ca­tional Cen­ter, held its 37th an­nual Grad­u­a­tion Cer­e­mony Thurs­day to rec­og­nize all those who had at­tained a Mary­land State Diploma through suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the Gen­eral Ed­u­ca­tional De­vel­op­ment (GED) or Na­tional Ex­ter­nal Diploma Pro­gram (NEDP) ex­am­i­na­tions dur­ing the 20152016 school year. There were a to­tal of 109 grad­u­ates dur­ing the pre­vi­ous school year, but only 37 at­tended the grad­u­a­tion

cer­e­mony, along with their fam­i­lies, friends and staff.

The Charles County Adult Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram, op­er­ated through the Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter, of­fers day­time and evening classes for GED and NEDP prepa­ra­tion, as well as English as a se­cond lan­guage ( ESL), ba­sic skills train­ing, ca­reer path­ways and cit­i­zen­ship classes, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

Sen. Thomas “Mac” Mid­dle­ton { span}( D- Charles) {/ span} con­grat­u­lated stu­dents on their ac­com­plish­ments.

“Of all the grad­u­a­tions that I go to, this is my very, very fa­vorite, be­cause th­ese stu­dents re­al­ize that in or­der to get ahead in life, they’ve got to have that de­gree and that diploma,” Mid­dle­ton said. “For many of you, this is go­ing to be just the first of many steps for­ward.”

Charles County Pub­lic Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Kim­berly Hill com­mended stu­dents for their ac­com­plish­ments.

“There’s a fa­mil­iar say­ing that the road to suc­cess is al­ways un­der con­struc­tion,” Hill said. “Maybe it was a de­tour that led you to the Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter. Tonight, you are on the right road, the road that led you to con­tinue your ed­u­ca­tion. Work hard, take risks and al­ways ex­pect more from your­selves than you think is pos­si­ble.”

One such grad­u­ate was Yao Blah Aimee Aka, the GED grad­u­ate speaker. War­ren said Aka took three buses to get to the Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter.

“Aimee came to us in the lat­ter part of 2015 and she just came in with a storm. She is a com­mit­ted and ded­i­cated per­son,” War­ren said.

Aka, a na­tive of West Africa, said she be­gan at­tend­ing the classes at the cen­ter after leav­ing an abu­sive mar­riage — first to im­prove her English skills, and later to ob­tain her GED. Now she is at­tend­ing the Col­lege of Southern Mary­land, she said.

“Thanks to my teach­ers at the Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter, for al­ways mak­ing them­selves avail­able to me,” Aka said. “Now I am on my way to achiev­ing my goals.”

Heather Ju­lian was the NEDP grad­u­ate speaker. Ju­lian said she left school and got mar­ried at age 18.

“I knew that earn­ing my high school diploma was not only some­thing I wanted to ac­com­plish, but some­thing I needed to do,” Ju­lian said.

Ju­lian is now at­tend­ing the Col­lege of Southern Mary­land, where she is pur­su­ing a de­gree in crim­i­nal jus­tice.

“You can­not ac­com­plish some­thing if you never try,” Ju­lian said. “I en­cour­age ev­ery­one to never give up on your dreams, and it’s never to late to have a new dream.”

STAFF PHOTOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON- COMEAU

Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter grad­u­ates cel­e­brate after re­ceiv­ing their Mary­land State Di­plo­mas dur­ing com­mence­ment cer­e­monies Thurs­day evening.

Heather Ju­lian, NEDP grad­u­ate speaker, spoke of her ex­pe­ri­ences in earn­ing her Mary­land state diploma dur­ing the Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter’s 37th an­nual grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony Thurs­day evening.

Yao Blah Aimee Aka, the GED grad­u­ate speaker, spoke about her ex­pe­ri­ences earn­ing her Mary­land state diploma dur­ing the Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter’s 37th an­nual grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony Thurs­day.

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