In addressing fellow recipients of GED and HSED certificates, Sarah Borntreger told a dramatic story about the path that led her to the stage at the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) commons Wednesday, May 8. However, each of the others wearing caps and gowns that evening could also have told a story involving overcoming of adversity. It’s something they all had in common.
The GED, or General Education Diploma, and the HSED, or High School Equivalency Diploma, are earned by people of all ages who, for one reason or another, did not complete high school. Earning the diploma requires passing a series of five difficult tests, usually after much preparation.
Borntreger told of her decision to leave the Amish community near Augusta. She related how her father died when she was three years old, and she was raised on a farm with her mother and stepfather, and many siblings. She was among 20 people living in a four-bedroom home at one point.
“After graduating from 8th grade, I chose to work on the farm,” rather than continue schooling, she said.
Eventually, she left the community she grew up in and set out on her own, but found there were difficulties along the way.
“It was hard not having a high school diploma and looking for a job,” she said.
Her experiences included moving to Georgia with friends, failing to obtain her GED there, coming back to Wisconsin and hopping between jobs. Eventually, though, she came to CVTC and received the help she needed to pass the GED tests.
“Some things in life are out of our control, but getting your GED is in your control,” Borntreger said. “You can be anything you want to be. Believe in yourself.”
Borntreger plans to continue her studies in one of the nursing programs at CVTC. It’s a path CVTC Vice President of Education Roger Stanford urged the graduates to take in his remarks as the keynote speaker at the ceremony. Stanford said when he graduated from Stanley-Boyd High School, the diploma would have enabled him to get a job that would benefit his family, and many of his fellow graduates chose that honorable path.
“But times have changed,” Stanford said, suggesting that a high school diploma does not command the earning power it once did. “I am going to challenge you today not to make this your last step. You need to find something to get you to your hopes and dreams.”