It’s never too late to study for the GED | PostIndependent.com

It’s never too late to study for the GED

Beth Zukowski
Colorado Mountain College
Photo by Consuelo Cota
Consuelo Cota |

Had he not passed the GED last year, John Baker says, “I’d still be looking for work.”

In 2010, Baker was unemployed. He and his family moved to the Roaring Fork Valley from Dolores so that his sons could attend the Waldorf School. The mix of an economy not fully rebounded and his being a newcomer to the valley made it difficult for him to find work in construction, his lifelong trade.

He started applying for work. Without a high school diploma or having passed the General Educational Development tests, he says, “I wasn’t even getting any interviews for jobs.”

Baker had always intended to pass the GED. “I had the big, 1,000-page GED study guide,” he says. It just wasn’t doing the trick. “I’m the type of person,” he says, “who really has to see things [in order to get it].”

Through some flyers he saw, Baker learned that Colorado Mountain College offered GED preparation classes.

“At 52 years old, I was very nervous about being the old guy in class,” he says, “but it turned out, there was a pretty big mix.”

Jamie Darien, Baker’s GED instructor at Colorado Mountain College in Carbondale, says that the beauty of education is that there are no restrictions.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what gender you are or how much money you make,” she says. “The hardest part is the first step — just walking in the door.”

For three months, Baker attended classes in Carbondale. He says it was just the right kind of help for him to be successful in passing the exam.

“I used to be good at math, and that came back to me pretty easily,” he says. English, on the other hand, was a subject in which he needed a little more review.

“I had a great teacher. I got a lot of support from my other classmates. It really helped me a lot in getting my confidence built up,” he says.

On his first attempt, he passed all five components of the GED exam and was honored in the annual GED graduation at the CMC Glenwood Center in June 2012.

Darien describes Baker as “the spark that set her class on fire.” She says, “I had five GED graduates because of John.”

Some of them, who had been studying for the exam for several months, were inspired by his success. Once Baker passed his exam, Darien said, “they felt they could do it, too.”

Baker worked in a seasonal capacity during the summer of 2012 at Mesa Verde National Park. When he returned to the Roaring Fork Valley, he landed a job as a winter driver for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. At the end of the season, they extended him the opportunity to apply for a full-time position, which he turned down in favor of a full-time job offer as a historic preservationist in the maintenance division at Mesa Verde, where he repairs and maintains some of the historic hogans within the park.

Looking back on his decision to get the help he needed and pass the GED, Baker says, “I’m glad I did it. It’s the best thing I’ve done.”


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