By Marlana Ward
Hard work and ambition were celebrated as the Northeast State Community College Adult Education Program held its graduation program at Heritage Hall on June 21. The night was filled with tears, smiles, and gratitude as students, faculty, and family celebrated the achievements of program participants from Johnson and Carter Counties. The parking lots surrounding Heritage Hall were filled with students and their supporters ready to celebrate this proud moment. As the graduates readied themselves to be presented on stage, representatives from state officials’ offices, the regional court system, and various school systems took their places to congratulate them.
District I Lead Instructor Karla Prudhomme was the night’s emcee and welcomed all in attendance. She thanked the families and various school and government officials for their role in helping the graduates achieve their dreams in obtaining their diplomas.
Graduates Lori Campbell and Kaice McCostlin were given an opportunity to address those in attendance and share part of their journey. Both women spoke of how their families were instrumental in inspiring them to gain their degree and how they hoped to in turn inspire their children to chase their dreams. “If you apply yourself and work hard, dreams really do come true,” McCostlin shared with the crowd.
When asked, Prudhomme later explained how one family member realizing their goal of obtaining their degree could affect generations of prospective graduates. “I have had many students bring their mothers, daughters, sons, wives, and husbands to me to get started in the program as they want their loved one to be able to have that same feeling of accomplishment,” she expressed.
After the graduates in attendance walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and shake hands with those who had helped them along their journey, Prudhomme again expressed gratitude to the various offices, businesses, and organizations which had helped make the program a success in both counties. Prudhomme especially thanked those involved with the Johnson and Carter County jails and courts for their willingness to allow the program to help individuals who were willing to try and make positive changes in their lives.
Over fifty students gained their GED through the Northeast State program this past semester.
Many of the graduates will go on to further their education as Prudhomme shared, “The majority of our graduates go on to attend a technical or community college especially since the governor rolled out the TN Promise and the TN Reconnect programs. The TN Reconnect gives those non-traditional students, those over the age of 26, the same opportunity of two years of free college or technical school.”
Following the ceremony, a reception was hosted by the Johnson County Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Graduates took the opportunity to celebrate and pose for pictures with their families, teachers, and program advocates who helped them along the way. Prudhomme further shared how the initiative of one person can affect entire families and communities, “The entire family benefits when a parent, or future parent, earn their diploma. This step alone can pull the entire family out of poverty as the door to employment opportunities is opened!”