Hopkinsville Community College celebrated its GED graduates Thursday evening during a short ceremony in the college auditorium.

Director of Academic Foundations and Adult Education Gary Dawson acknowledged that 118 students have passed the General Education Development tests since last May, and Christian County ranks ninth in the state for the number of GED graduates. Todd and Caldwell counties rank 10th and 11th, respectively, and are also serviced through HCC.

Among those to pass the GED this year was 28-year-old Ashley Chappell, who was cheered on Thursday by her roommates from Grace and Mercy faith-based women's rehabilitation home.

Chappell, who grew up in Crofton, said it took her about two months to receive her certificate, but it's been a long time coming.

"I really didn't have the best of childhoods, but, you know, just a lot of in and out of jail until I decided I wanted to turn that around," she said after walking the stage. "I went into rehab at Grace and Mercy here, and I've lived there for 11 months now, so they just encouraged me that what I stick my mind to, I could do."

HCC Adult Education faculty offered a recurring message of encouragement for the graduates to continue their education.

"You have to stay focused," Dawson said. "Never let a distraction keep you from your goal."

Director of program facilitation Tara Rascoe said the students proved they could perservere.

"You have proven to yourself, your family and your employers that you have the intellect, focus and resolve to complete the mission," she said.

Guest speaker Angela Smith, a former student who now works at HCC as medical information technology program coordinator, said she experienced some of the same hardships as some of the graduates.

"In my young age, I was told, 'You will never amount to anything, so sit down and shut up,' but quitting was not an option," Smith said. "I understand you being scared to go forward, but I hope you understand your dreams can come true — trust me, I know.

"Dream, believe and achieve," she concluded.

HCC CEO/President Dr. Alissa Young also addressed the graduates before handing out their certificates.

Young said, "I am so stinking proud of you because I know a little of what it took for you to get here. I want to challenge you not to stop here. This is just a portion of your journey."

Chappell said getting her GED isn't the last stop. In fact, she's already taking classes to pursue her next goal.

"I want to be a forensic psychologist," she said. "I'm in my second semester of school right now. I'm going for my associate's in science."

According to the HCC Adult Education website, free GED testing is available through June 30. For more information about taking the test, call 270-707-3925.

Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or zalleyne@kentuckynewera.com.

High Score and Scholarship Recognition:

  • Kerry Howard received the highest score in the class for social studies, reading and language arts along with a tie in science with James Overton.
  • William Rodeen and Harleigh Merrick tied for the highest score in math.
  • HCC GED scholarship recipients were William Rodeen (2018) and Jelahni Le (2019).

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