Moraine Park Technical College held its 24th Annual GED/HSED Graduation Ceremony on June 16. For the 2015-16 school year, 103 students received their General Education Development (GED) and High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) certificates.
Three of these individuals served as student speakers at the graduation event – Ambiyo Munie of Mogadishu, Somalia; Christopher Dietz of Beaver Dam; and Thomas Helgeson of Beaver Dam – and each reflected on vastly different journeys that led them to this point.
Munie had come to America seeking to provide a better life for her mother and siblings in Somalia and took six years to learn English and earn her diploma. She currently lives in Fond du Lac.
“I am here tonight to tell you that anything is possible if you work hard and are patient. If you don’t have these things, you cannot succeed,” Munie said
Dietz spent 30 years in the workforce before being laid off. As he looked for new work and he came close to landing a dream job, only to lose out when the employer discovered he had not earned his high school diploma. He credits Moraine Park for help in rebuilding his career prospects this late in life.
“The teachers at Moraine Park were awesome. They never looked down at me and made me actually feel intelligent. They really made me feel I could get through the process,” Dietz said, noting he has since reapplied for and earned the same dream job he once missed out on.
Helgeson, the youngest speaker, had started off his high school career in excellent fashion. After freshman year, however, he lost focus and let his grades slip beyond repair. Now, with his GED in hand, he just finished a Certified Nursing Assistant course and is set to start the Nursing Program next fall at Moraine Park.
“This is my experience and all of us are so much different than each other – our pasts, our goals, and our futures,” Helgeson said. “But we’re all sitting in the same room together tonight, so that has to mean a couple of things: We’ve recognized some terrific opportunities. And we’ve capitalized on them.”
State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt was a special guest speaker at the event. He congratulated all of the students for capitalizing on these opportunities and wished them continued success moving forward.
“I don’t want you to look at this as the end of a journey. I want you to look at this as a new beginning. During your quest for your GED, I suspect that you learned a lot about yourself. Maybe you found skills you didn’t know you had. Maybe you rekindled some that hadn’t been used in a long time … [But] you have learned those things to move forward in your life,” Thiefeldt said. “I congratulate you for reaching this point. I know this isn’t the way you mapped it out probably. But you got there. You finished. And now it’s time to begin again.”
In order to earn their GED/HSED, students had to pass four standardized tests in math, language, social studies and science, as well as meet other requirements.
Also during Moraine Park’s GED/HSED ceremony, Arletta Allen of Fond du Lac and Rachel Martinez of Waupun were presented with Moraine Park Foundation Basic Education Scholarships. This is the sixth year the $500 scholarships have been awarded to one or more students pursuing further education at Moraine Park.
“Friends of Basic Education” awards were also presented to several staff members for their work with students. Earning awards were Dan March, Joanne Michels and Mel Kolstad. All three were volunteers with Fond du Lac Literacy Services. Another “Friends” award was also presented to Fond du Lac Literacy Services as a whole, with Doris Grajkowski accepting on its behalf.
For more information about Moraine Park’s GED testing, visit morainepark.edu/GED.