A powerful story from a young woman who 'broke the cycle'

About 100 literacy advocates gathered in a Presbyterian Church meeting room near the Georgia State Capitol Wednesday to honor 10 state lawmakers who have been advocates of literacy programs and to talk about the challenges and the impact of illiteracy in our state. Did you know about 1.3 million Georgians 18 years or older do not have a high school diploma? Last year about 20,000 of this 1.3 million returned to adult education classrooms and received a GED, the equivalent of a high school diploma. But while 20,000 received a GED throughout Georgia, there was another 30,000 to 40,000 students dropping out of school. We are losing the numbers battle in improving literacy in our state. During Wednesday's program, WSB-TV new anchor John Pruitt and Georgia Technical College System Commissioner Ron Jackson spoke eloquently about efforts to improve literacy. They challenged the audience to go back to their communities and do more to get these 1.3 million under-educated Georgians into adult education classrooms.
After Pruitt and Jackson spoke, a young woman from Houston County, Ga., stepped to the podium. She said she dropped out of high school in 2004. Fortunately, she enrolled in adult education classes a year later and earned a GED. She had a thirst for more education. She enrolled in technical college and earned a two-year degree. With that degree in hand, this young woman was determined to get more education. She enrolled in an online college program, and she recently received a bachelor's degree. After proudly telling the crowd of her educational achievements, the young woman paused. Everyone listened. "I became the first person in my immediate family to ever receive a high school diploma," she said. "I broke the cycle." That's a powerful story. The cycle of illiteracy too often repeats itself from one generation to the next generation. Parents without a high school diploma -- many of whom can't read or write -- will likely have children who will not finish high school. In today's global economy if you do not have at least a high school diploma, you are very unlikely to get a good job. You will likely not succeed in the workplace. The young lady from Houston County is a success story. Many communities in our state have young adults like this woman. They have potential. They need direction. We must support adult education programs and literacy awareness programs to get these people back into the classroom. They, too, can break the cycle and get on the road to success.


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