Three generations attend WGTC together for GED

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Three Generations of women attend West Georgia Technical College simultaneously. From left: Jerrie Shackelford, grandmother; Shannon Noles; Melanie Hamrick, mother.

There is a special bond among a grandmother, mother and daughter. But for Jerrie Shackelford, Melanie Hamrick and Shannon Noles, that bond is bit more unique.

These three generations of women began and completed the GED program at the Carroll Campus of West Georgia Technical College together.

'Adult education can help change the lives of families and their futures,' said West Georgia Technical College President Dr. Skip Sullivan. 'We congratulate Jerrie, Melanie and Shannon on their accomplishments.'

When Shackelford was laid off from her contract position, she thought it was the perfect opportunity to go back to school. Hamrick was also contemplating another try at getting her GED.

'I didn't feel like I could do it, so I ended up quitting school,' said Hamrick of her previous GED attempt.

While her grandmother and mother made the decision to obtain their GED together, Noles was enrolled in high school. At the time, Shannon was not doing well in school and didn't feel that she was getting the help she needed. Noles decided to leave her high school and pursue her GED with her mother and grandmother.

Throughout the course of the program, the three generations of women helped to push and motivate each other through the difficult times of learning and studying. While Noles had to adjust to no longer being a part of the traditional high school atmosphere and being away from her friends, Shackelford and Hamrick had to adjust to being back in a school atmosphere, all while juggling family responsibilities.

'Studying at home was the hardest for me,' said Hamrick. 'I have five kids aged 5 to 16 and it was hard to study and to take care of them.'

With only a 10th grade education and having been out of school for over 30 years, Shackelford faced the most difficulty in her pursuit of a GED. 'I had the most trouble with math,' said Shackelford. 'I would stay up until 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. studying. When I passed, that was a load off my chest. When I grasped that, I knew I could do this.'

In just nine short weeks, all three women received their GEDs along with new goals for their future.

They are each looking forward to pursuing the next step of their education at West Georgia Technical College. Shackelford plans to pursue a Radiologic Technology degree, Hamrick is deciding between the Clinical Laboratory Technology or Dental Assisting programs and Noles looks forward to pursuing an Associate Degree in Nursing.

Despite their personal hardships, all three women agreed that the pursuit of higher education was worth it and credited their instructor, Andrea Swann, for their success.

'I really enjoyed West Georgia Technical College. It was an enjoyable experience,' said Shackelford. 'I had a wonderful teacher. If it wasn't for Andrea, I probably wouldn't have finished.'

'I hope that this will show others that age is not a barrier. They supported each other, leaned on each other and encouraged one another,' said Adult Education instructor Andrea Swann. 'They completed the program in such a short amount of time. I hope people will realize that college is an attainable goal that can happen sooner than they realize.'



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