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updated: 5/24/2013 11:24 AM

COD Celebrates 21st Annual GED Commencement

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  • Pictured: GED student Chanbopha Loera addresses her fellow graduates May 18 at College of DuPage. Loera is one of 13 recipients of this year's Jump Start Scholarship,

    Pictured: GED student Chanbopha Loera addresses her fellow graduates May 18 at College of DuPage. Loera is one of 13 recipients of this year's Jump Start Scholarship,


College of DuPage's Adult Basic Education/General Education Development office honored 82 recipients of their newly earned GED certificates at a ceremony held May 18. Click here for photos from this event.

The College, which became a DuPage County GED testing site in 1997, offers a range of services to help adults earn a GED certificate. These resources have helped thousands of adults complete their high school education.

College of DuPage President Robert L. Breuder praised students for their determination and commitment to education, encouraging them to take their educational aspirations even further. Pausing briefly during the ceremony, Dr. Breuder recounted his own struggles in the classroom and in determining a major. As a community college president for more than 30 years, Dr. Breuder credits the opportunity of this educational system for both his career and personal success.

"There's always something in the way and the real secret is that you can't let it become an obstacle that hinders you from meeting your goals," he said. "You will be successful if you have the courage and perseverance and are willing to take risks. The more you invest in yourself, the more will come to you in your life. I hope you have a great life and that this is just the first step in that journey."

Speaker Vanessa Jasek's plans to complete high school in 1989 were derailed by the untimely death of a friend. Many years and four children of her own later, Jasek said she pursued her GED to motivate her two eldest children, who had dropped out of high school as well.

"I had big hair and big dreams, but I didn't have enough credits to graduate high school," she said. "When I saw my own children making the same mistakes I did, I was heartbroken, and I pleaded for them to complete their GED with me. In October 2012, I earned my GED, and now both my son and daughter did as well. I'm proud to say that I'm now also enrolled at COD and just finished my first semester."

Kevin Ventura emigrated from Venezuela 18 months ago. Realizing the greatest challenge blocking his pathway to future achievement was the language barrier, he enrolled at College of DuPage to improve his English skills and earn his GED.

"As I progressed, there was no excuse not to continue because I got the Jump Start Scholarship and was able to afford more classes," he said. "This experience has given me the tools to be successful and I have learned that every experience can be fun and rewarding."

Sarah Ishtiaqiue Ahmed credits the College's GED program with preparing her for higher education. After earning her GED, Ishtiaqiue Ahmed now is taking college courses and recently completed her first semester at COD.

"Continue your education and never give up," she said. "Completing the GED is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life so far and the encouragement and assistance I received from the people here at COD has been invaluable."

More than one million people take the GED test annually in the United States and Canada and approximately 75 percent of these individuals move on to a post-secondary education.

Chanbopha Loera credits the program with helping to advance her career. The Cambodian native completed her studies there, and was subsequently encouraged by her husband to earn a U.S. high school equivalency, allowing her to pursue additional college courses.

"While the classes have been challenging, I've really enjoyed them," she said. "This may not be an easy path, but it's worthwhile. Last week I finished my first accounting class and I plan to complete a degree in Business."

The May 18 ceremony also honored students receiving scholarships to continue their college studies:

GED Graduate Scholarship: Vanessa Jasek and Alexandro Vasquez

Danny Young Memorial Scholarship: Cheryl Mayer and Tara Noble.

Certificate and GED Scholarship: Joshua Clark, Gabriel De la Cruz, Kelly Dean, Danielle Grubicky, Lynwood Palmer and Alexandro Vasquez.

Jump Start Scholarship recipients: Sarah Ishtiaqiue Ahmed, Mayra Barajas-Alcazar, Keith Jacobs, Vanessa Jasek, Miguel Jeronimo, Chanbopha Loera, Diana Moreno, Gulzar Noormohammed, Lynwood Palmer, Bathsheba Ramsey, Thondalah Smith, Lisa Thomas and Kevin Ventura.

For more information on the College's GED program, call (630) 942-2562, or visit: