Adults pass exam to earn certificates, diplomas |

Adults pass exam to earn certificates, diplomas

Mike McKibbin
Special to the Post Independent
Estela Lopez received her adult high school diploma at the June 2 GED graduation ceremonies at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs. Graduates earned 31 GEDs and 10 adult high school diplomas from the Glenwood Springs and Carbondale centers this year. Photo Mike McKibbin

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Amanda Price is now the first among her siblings to earn either a high school diploma or a GED, which stands for general educational development certificate.

She received her GED during ceremonies at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs on June 2. Graduates earned 31 GEDs and 10 adult high school diplomas from the Glenwood Springs and Carbondale centers this year.

To receive an adult high school diploma, a student must pass the GED exam and take several additional courses.

Getting a GED or adult high school diploma can translate into serious earning power, research shows.

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According to the U.S. Department of Education, the median income for someone between 18 and 67 years of age who did not finish high school was roughly $23,000 per year in 2008. Those who completed high school or earned a GED had a median annual income of approximately $42,000. Over a lifetime, that’s a difference of about $630,000.

Price, a Glenwood Springs resident, and her husband have two young children, ages 4 and 1.

“Even though my parents didn’t make me go to school, I wanted my kids to know it’s important to have an education,” she said.

Growing up, Price lived in foster homes until she was 16. She then lived with her father, who she says never enforced any rules or sent her to school.

“So I dropped out in my freshman year,” she said.

“I was young, too, and thought money was more important than an education.” So she worked at several fast food restaurants, and married at 19.

She learned about Colorado Mountain College’s GED program through the Women, Infants and Children program at the Garfield County Department of Health and Human Services. She started in January.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to be capable of finishing,” Price said. “But I guess I realized that I did pick up something while I was in foster care.”

She also praised the staff in the college’s learning lab, where GED students take classes.

“They helped answer my questions and explained things in different ways until I got it,” she said.

Price and her family plan to move into a recently purchased condominium in New Castle, and she may continue her education at Colorado Mountain College.

Patience, persistence pay off

Estela Lopez received her adult high school diploma and played the piano for those at the graduation.

It took her nearly three years of learning English and earning enough credits. She also took a few college courses at the same time.

“It was difficult because of the language and such,” Lopez said. “But if you take things a step at a time, you can finish.”

A Basalt resident and mother of two children, ages 3 and 7, Lopez heard of the GED program through the federal Head Start program for low-income, preschool-aged children and their families.

Like Price, Lopez praises the learning lab staff.

“They were there for me every time,” she said. “They were very helpful. They kept telling me it may take a long time, but have patience.”

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