Each of the more than 30 graduates honored during Chippewa Valley Technical College’s GED and HSED Recognition Ceremony had their own reason for being proud of their accomplishment.
Kenyetta Jeffries, mother of James Shabazz, flew from Cape Cod, Mass., Wednesday to be part of her son’s celebration at the college’s Business Education Center.
“I was so surprised because he had made attempts before and had run into different roadblocks. I could tell he was discouraged,” Kenyetta said after the ceremony, in which James was honored for earning his General Education Development certificate.
“As a mom, I can only do so much,” she added. “God put people in his life that he could connect with, the people at this technical college, who helped him with his next phase. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. I am so proud of him and so appreciative of the people who helped him.”
James, 20, admits having difficulty transitioning out of a southern California high school. He eventually moved in with his grandmother in Neillsville and entered CVTC’s GED program.
“I was running into a lot of walls, so I came here and it has been great,” said James, who plans to pursue an entertainment or military career. “I now have the GED, which is what I will need if I go into the Marines, which is my backup plan if the entertainment thing doesn’t work out.”
“Having this done is a big burden off my shoulders,” James added. “It got to the point at times where I was wondering if this day was ever going to come, but it has and I am glad I pushed through.”
James credits Todd Meyer, Adult Education Services instructor at CVTC’s Neillsville campus, for providing inspiration.
“The instructors were great, and Todd basically helped me focus on my strengths and weaknesses,” James said. “Todd and other teachers worked with me and helped me push through these tests and get it done. I’m not sure I would have been able to do this without them.
“In high school, there was a time when I felt I just didn’t need this, but as I got older, I realized I did,” James said. “This is a big day, a good day.”
Wednesday’s ceremony included those who earned their Certificate of General Education Development and their High School Equivalency Diploma, . GED testing involves reading, writing, math, social studies and science, while the HSED also includes health, civics and employability requirements.
Kristina Toske, 34, of Chippewa Falls and formerly of Dayton, Ohio, earned her GED in December and has a grade point average of 3.5 in her first semester in CVTC’s nursing program.
“My husband filed for divorce in September and I decided to persevere, so I went after what I was lacking,” an emotional Kristina said. “I was a stay-at-home mom for six years with two babies. All of a sudden I had to do something.”
Kristina plans to specialize in hospice care with her nursing degree.
“My kids have been my inspiration in getting me to this point,” she said. “My 6-year-old son says he wants to be like mommy; to be smart and go to school. My 4- and 15-year-old children have also been encouraging and supportive.”
Graduates Jodi Martin of Chippewa Falls, Michael Sokup of Eau Claire, and Daniel Saul of Neillsville received scholarships to attend CVTC.
Jeff Staads, president of Business Resource Center in Eau Claire, was the keynote speaker.