~Leon Howard Sullivan
Founder, OIC America
The year that Mary “Kathy” Smeltzer would have attended her 50th high school reunion, she earned her HiSET diploma. Kathy dropped out of school when she was 16. She got married, had three children, was divorced, enjoyed a 32-year career as an office worker for a Harrisburg trucking firm, retired, and returned to the same company for a few additional years.
When Kathy was laid off due to a work slow down, she began collecting unemployment compensation, which required her to register at the Harrisburg CareerLink. Her counselor asked her if there was anything she’d like to do, and Kathy told her she’d like to finish high school. She was referred to Tri-County OIC’s class at the CareerLink, which she began in July. She started testing in December and earned her HiSET diploma in February. “I loved my teacher,” Kathy said. “It was a very good experience.
“I didn’t do this for a career because I had a very responsible job,” Kathy, 66, said of her reason for working toward her diploma. “I did it because it was a personal goal. I was relieved and very proud of myself when I finished.”
High school offered too much drama for Anthony Russell, who dropped out because he couldn’t focus on his studies. He was doing well academically, but the distractions left him unable to do as well as he felt he could. After leaving school, Anthony joined the Jobs Corps, but only finished part of the course. Two years later, he enrolled at Tri-County OIC after hearing about it from friends. “I realized I needed to complete my high school education to get to where I wanted to be,” said Anthony, 19, about what caused him to finally get serious.
He began classes in October while working full time and earned his HiSET diploma in December. He was able to persist in his studies, he said, because he took all of his insecurities and issues and put them into motivating himself. He also credited his teachers for helping him and OIC for providing financial assistance.
Anthony plans to attend college and major in criminal justice.
Lamia Razouane came to the United States in 2014 with her husband and children. She had already earned a college degree in International Trade in her native Tunisia, and she spoke English, but she wanted to learn more and attend college here in the states. So when she heard about OIC from friends, she attended orientation and began classes in February. She also enrolled three of her four children in the Family Literacy program which provided them with age-appropriate educational experiences. They loved story time, Lamia, 34, said, and the family attended school as often as possible.
She was a quick learner and was able to earn her HiSET diploma in June. Every day we learned something new, she said about her classes. “If you want to study for your high school diploma, if you want to learn English, go to OIC.”
Tri-County OIC is a community-based, non-profit, Federal, State, local, foundation and supporter funded organization, which is part of a greater nationwide alliance of OIC’s.
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