By Glory Wells
Graduating from high school has always been a valued achievement, but what happens when life’s difficulties get in the way? According to adult learners Antoinette Reynolds and David Logan, you keep persevering.
June 29, 2022 marked the day Reynolds and Logan had the honor of not only celebrating their graduation, but also serving as commencement speakers at the Philadelphia Citywide Graduation Ceremony. They joined nearly 200 adult learners who were honored during the ceremony, the first event of its kind in three years.
Reynolds, who attended the Northeast Learning Center, directed her message towards those who have felt discouraged or too far behind to continue their education. Reynolds herself experienced such dilemmas, as well as distractions that interfered with her drive to become a high school graduate.
“When I made my mind up to push forward and not let those things get in my way, it still took discipline, hard work and dedication to succeed in something for myself,” she said.
During her time at Northeast Learning Center, a high school equivalency diploma preparation program and testing center for adult learners, she was challenged to face her fears and complete her goals.
“The feeling of knowing that I accomplished a goal in my life that was hindering me from feeling whole — changed everything in me,” she stated.
By pushing herself forward, Reynolds inspired others and reaffirmed the possibility of achieving anything.
By the same token, Logan, a graduate of Beyond Literacy, told the crowd how achieving your life’s aspirations takes a generous amount of ambition.
“It’s like I told my classmates: the challenges we face everyday are guaranteed; the easiest and most unexpected thing we can do for ourselves is fight back with an ambitious goal and a dream,” Logan said in his address.
Logan explained that he did not always have the goal to continue his education. Growing up, he thought college was a waste of time and money. He believed that using his computer and business skills would sustain him through life.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Logan was displaced from his home in New York and returned to Pennsylvania. He eventually acquired temporary employment, but could not be hired in certain roles without a diploma. Logan realized his decision to not continue his education limited his ability to advance his career.
“After years of avoiding what was obviously holding me back I’ve come to the realization that the time I’ve spent teaching myself how to succeed, I could’ve used that time to have something to show for it,” he said.
Logan made it his mission to get his high school diploma and that’s when he connected with Beyond Literacy, an educational organization that provides free, high quality education for adults and families. Beyond Literacy also introduced him to their green energy pre-apprenticeship program, the Energy Coordinating Agency, which helped him receive additional certifications.
Logan finally had something to show for all the hard work he put in. He not only earned his diploma and multiple certifications, but learned new skills that can help him make an impact on his community, while gaining a new family of classmates and instructors that changed his perspective and fueled his ambition.
“My advice to anyone that is held back by hardship, time management, child care, disabilities, or any excuse to keep you from achieving your goals is: things like this are possible,” he concluded.
Logan will study mechanical engineering at Delaware Community College this fall. He and Reynolds exemplify that anyone can accomplish their goals at any time, proving that while the journey may not always be easy, the reward will be well worth it.
All in all, Reynolds and Logan hope they can continue to inspire others to pursue their own dreams, and to cherish the rewards of their ambitious efforts.
“And it’s closer than you think,” Logan added. “All you have to do is reach out and grab it.”