GED graduates from Coweta, Troup honored at graduation
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
Family, friends and instructors were on their feet and cheering as 36 graduates from Coweta and Troup counties received their GED diplomas at a Thursday ceremony at the Centre for the Performing and Visual Arts in Newnan.
“The tassel is worth the hassle,” Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager told the graduates.
“Don’t stop now,” Yeager said. “The fun is just beginning. I challenge each and every one of you to make things happen in your life.”
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Graduate speaker Carolyn “CJ” Lambel praised her adult education instructors at West Georgia Technical College – where she earned her GED in four weeks through WGTC’s fast-track program – where she said she was “greeted with the utmost respect and kindness.”
Lambel, now pursuing an associate degree in business management at WGTC, told the crowd, “I never thought I’d be standing here, not in a million years.”
A mother at 17, Lambel did not complete high school but learned to be a savvy business woman, working in a number of fields and even owning her own business before becoming operations director for a major manufacturing company.
Possessed of an impressive work history, Lambel expected eventually to retire from that company, especially after being relocated from her native California to Newnan. That changed when the company was sold, and by 2011 Lambel was unemployed.
“I found myself jobless and unemployable because I didn’t have a high school diploma,” said Lambel, who continued to job hunt hoping her work experience would fill the gap. But prospective employers didn’t bite.
“When we got to the education part, I went into the ‘not’ pile,” she said.
Lambel initially enrolled in an adult education program she says was “a bad choice,” but decided to try again at WGTC.
“My instructors didn’t care about my past, only where I was going,” she said. “They supported me in becoming a high school graduate in four weeks.”
In her job quest, Lambel now has options.
“When answering the phone, I get to make the choice,” she said, adding that she no longer feels unemployable. “I will never find myself in that position again.”
Yanet Valencia, who earned her GED at age 16 last spring, was awarded the Lavinia Barron Memorial Scholarship by Ingrid Richardson. Richardson, a member of the Board of Directors of Certified Literate is Coweta’s Key (CLICK) and Central Baptist Church, said the $3,000 award went to Valencia because she epitomizes Barron’s long-held belief that education is the key to success.
Valencia, who currently is enrolled in WGTC’s criminal justice program with the goal of becoming a victim’s advocate, overcame depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder to complete her education.
“I’m so grateful to receive this scholarship,” Valencia told the crowd, saying her mother and siblings provide her strength and hope. “This award is a true blessing.”
GED Chief Examiners Wanda Maddox and Jim Humphries presented the candidates for graduation and Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of WGTC, accepted them, clearing the way for the presentation of diplomas. Lead instructor Sherry Gray announced the names of each of the graduates as they crossed the stage and received their diplomas from Sullivan.
Graduates included Wilson Delmundo Acedera Jr., Chasity Dawn Arnold, Deeandra Boozer, Joseph Britt, Lasha Michelle Byrd, Micheal Anthoney Cash, Stephanie Brook Cline, Trindi Coalson, James Michael Crider, Jared Nathaniel Gamblin, Elizabeth Marie Gardner, Janice Morzell Goode, LaCrystal Shanice Harris, Tammy Hooks, Tequisha Capri Irvin, Mia Amanda McLendon, Kristy Amber Milam, Brandy Moore, Cinthya Carolina Pacheco, Sheson Scott Passmore, Mark Ryan Patterson, Courtney Pike, Taylor Pilgrim, Benita Avis Reeves, Rhonda Rachelle Robertson, Alyssa Marie Rodriquez, Shamonica Rosser, Adam Lindsey Smith, Julia Smith, Nicole Marie Spafford, Shyanne Steadham, Raven Suggs, Terry-James Furie Taylor, Nathan Curtis Thompson, Phillip Edward Witz, and Michael Steven Wright.