Andre Johnson, a high school dropout, had tried other schools, but things just didn't work out. Then, the 29-year-old Chicopee resident found his way to HCC's Adult Learning Center, where he finally earned his GED.
"I recommend it to anyone looking to get back on top," said Johnson, who now plans to pursue automotive technology at Springfield Technical Community College. "It changed my life."
Johnson was one of seven adult learners who were awarded their GED certificates Thursday, June 21, in a graduation celebration at HCC's Adult Learning Center, located in the Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center, above the transportation station on Maple Street in Holyoke.
The new graduates, joined by family members, teachers, classmates and friends, ate food catered by La Veracruzana and listened to a speech from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, a frequent visitor to the center.
"What this means," he said, talking directly to the students who have earned their GEDs, "is that you have done something many in the community have yet to do."
Morse told the story of his own mother and father, both high school dropouts who married young. His mother got pregnant with their first child at 17 and his father went to work. His father, who has worked for the same company for more than 30 years, still hopes to go back to school some day. His mother followed a path much like many of the students who attend classes at the Adult Learning Center; she got her GED at the age of 40 and then went on to earn an associate degree from HCC.
"Even though I went to a private college, I know what it's like not to be a traditional student," said Morse, 23, a graduate of Holyoke High School and Brown University.
Sherkhan Delaney, 34, of Holyoke, had just found out that day that he had passed his GED. He couldn't have been more proud. "My plan now is to do some transition classes," he said. "I want to go to college."
Photos: (Left) Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse gives the keynote speech at a graduation ceremony at HCC's Adult Learning Center. (Right) Sherkhan Delaney, of Holyoke, celebrates the news that he passed his GED.