By Sarah L. Lopez
Pulse Staff Reporter
From early on, the term GED (General Educational Development) has always been associated with negative opinions, but Palo Alto’s Adult Learning Academy is here to change that perception.
Twenty-five to 50 percent of individuals within the ages of 18 and 30 do not have a high school diploma in the community surrounding Palo Alto College, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Only 5 percent within the neighboring area of Palo Alto have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
With 68 students enrolled, the Community Programs offered on campus help bridge that gap. A curriculum of four courses consisting of language arts, math, social sciences and science give returning students the tools they need to succeed.
“We’re a modern day Ellis Island and Hull House,” said Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College. “Our role as a community college is to ensure that folks access our educational programs and resources to move forward and be a part of the American middle class.”
The program is funded by two community partners, the Toyota Corporation and the Fabulous GED Brunch Committee. Toyota provides scholarships to STEM students and puts money toward the Adult Learning Academy. The Fabulous GED Brunch Committee meets throughout the year to raise money for PAC students earning their certificate. Students enjoy learning in a college setting while receiving the attention needed from their instructors.
“It’s to the point,” said 37-year-old Anthony Vodochodsky, a student of the program since this fall. “It’s also inspiring. Seeing my kids now going to college, I kind of used them as my little push. Seeing your children do it helps you want to do it.”
Vodochodsky will be heading to a medical school to become a radiologist once he has completed his courses.
Classes are also offered in Spanish for those who are proficient in that language.
“I was not born here,” said Patricia Vigil Flores, a student of the Spanish GED program since this fall. “To live in the United States, getting your GED is important to further your studies and have a good job, especially since I’m planning to continue going to school after this.”
Once Vigil Flores graduates from the Learning Academy, she will continue her education at St Philip’s College to obtain a degree in nursing.
The focus of this program is to not only prepare students for what they will be facing after graduation, but to open their minds to the very possibility of what they can do after acquiring a GED. Although no job training is involved in the courses, if students show the desire to pursue a collegiate career, advising is provided.
“Not only do we want the students to achieve their GED, but we want them to achieve some enlightenment so they can know just how much more they can do with their lives,” said Brenda W. Dillard, administrative associate of the Adult Learning Academy. “You got your certificate. Now you can go further and do other things and help other people.”
Scholarships are offered to help with paying for exams, classes and books. Twenty hours of tutoring is required with attendance. Starting Nov. 1, five weeks of classes will be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Spanish courses will begin Oct. 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
For more information, contact Lydia Hannawi, program manager at (210) 486-3410 or firstname.lastname@example.org