Ashly Thompson of Forest and Johnathon Scott of Carthage were among recipients of high school equivalency diplomas presented at the semi-annual GED Graduation recently at East Central Community College in Decatur.
Both were also among featured speakers and told their personal testimonials at the special ceremony, which also included remarks from Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who congratulated graduates and encouraged them to continue their education.
Thompson, 23, lost her home to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was living in a tent at a resort area as she began her senior year at D’Iberville High School.
Thompson passed first semester but was unable to complete the second term and dropped out of school.
For several years she said she attempted to pass the GED but was unsuccessful.
Thompson later moved to the Scott County area, and with her fiance’s assistance and encouragement, she enrolled in GED classes offered at the Forest/Scott County Career and Technology Center.
“Mrs. (Teresa) Lovett and Mrs. (Elizabeth) Nutt helped me refresh my skills,” said Thompson, “and it wasn’t long until I was prepared to take my test…..which I passed the first time I took it!”
Thompson said she is “most appreciative” of the support from family and instructors.
“The support from my finance, his mom and my instructors helped me turn my life around,” she said. “I now know the future is bright for my son and me.”
Thompson is currently enrolled in evening and on-line classes offered by ECCC.
Scott, 19, began his education at French Camp Academy in Choctaw County, Miss. He struggled to succeed in math and failed the fourth grade.
“My mother always told me that she wasn’t good in math either, but that I needed to keep on trying,” Scott said.
He later attended Weir High School and eventually went to Chamberlain-Hunt Academy in Port Gibson, where he finished the eleventh grade.
“Although I finished the eleventh grade, I realized that not only did I not like math but math did not like me, either!”
He left Chamberlain-Hunt and spent the summer months living in Louisville with Garry and Ramona Hughes who earlier became his family’s “sponsor” at French Camp.
While residing in Louisville, Scott enrolled in GED classes taught by instructors Daphne Donald and Kay Ward. “They pushed me and I pushed myself,” said Scott. “I passed all the GED sections except one – math, which I finally passed on my third attempt! I had finally completed my GED!”
As he struggled to pass the math section of the GED Test, Scott said he kept remembering what his mom told him before she died on Easter Sunday 2012, “Never give up – keep pushing!”
Scott encouraged others who are thinking about giving up on their dreams of a better life through education to do the same…“Never give up!”
Scott plans to continue his education and become a computer programmer.
ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart awarded diplomas to the 34 graduates.
Other program participants include ECCC Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Jimmy Hollingsworth of Lake, Vice President for Instruction Dr. Teresa Houston, music instructor Len Bobo and Adult Basic Education/GED instructor Bryan Burt.
East Central offers free ABE/GED-Preparation classes throughout the five-county district.