Adult Graduates
Photo Credit: Kelly & Massa Photography

PHILADELPHIA – Nearly 70 adult learners who accomplished personal milestones by completing their high school equivalency certifications were recently honored at a graduation ceremony at the Bonnell Auditorium on the campus of Community College of Philadelphia at 17th & Spring Garden streets.

The new graduates heard inspirational remarks from Mayor Jim Kenney, Dr. David Thomas of Community College of Philadelphia, Executive Director of Adult Education Christine Pivens, fellow graduate Amira Sloan and bestselling author, journalist, radio host and Urban One Philadelphia radio Community Affairs Director Solomon Jones.

Mayor Kenney praised the graduates for their tenacity in completing their degrees, despite life’s obstacles.

“All of you who are graduating today – and receiving the Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma – made the important and life-changing choice to continue your education and pursue a new career path,” the Mayor said. “You chose to invest in yourself, and that deserves to be recognized and celebrated. I know it’s not always easy to go back to school–some of you may have kids or work full time. But your motivation and desire to succeed, whether that meant passing an exam or earning 30 college credits, is exactly why you’re here today.  You are all examples of academic success and are living proof that it’s never too late to ‘go back to school.’”

Solomon Jones
Photo Credit: Solomon Jones

Guest speaker Jones, who on weekday mornings hosts “Wake Up With WURD” and who has authored such bestselling novels as Pipe Dreams and Ten Lives, Ten Demands, enthralled the audience with a poetic address on hustling.

“A hustler has a vision,” Jones said. “He up all night / out-thinking the competition / He willing to step out on a ledge / to get an edge / He willing to do it right / ‘cause his daughter need him home at night/ not laying on the board / at the morgue.”

“Graduates, y’all the real hustlers,” he said.

“You’re adults who have gone back to grab something that you missed the first time….Today is major, and don’t let anybody tell you it’s not,” Jones said.

Organizations with graduates taking part in the ceremony were JEVS Human Services, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Temple’s Workforce Education and Lifelong Learning Program (Temple WELL), Northeast Learning Center, and Beyond Literacy.

Amira Sloan, the adult learner who presented this year’s commencement address, offered insight into her next steps, and how this program has helped her.

“This program helped me in so many ways and I will forever be grateful,” she said. “I learned that I am not as alone as I thought I was…I can now say with clarity, I have plans for my future that seem within my  grasp. Before, it seemed I was just working and working at no end. I thought I would be at the same job for the rest of my life, but getting my GED has opened up so many doors for me.”

Watch the ceremony on YouTube

Under the Office of Children and Families (OCF), Adult Education is focused on building a coherent, equitable, quality adult education system that can be sustained for generations to come. Adult education is fundamental for Philadelphians to achieve their individual potential, which in turn creates economic growth, reduces inequality, and fosters social inclusion.

Adult Education direct service agencies provide an array of programs that include Adult Basic Education, English for Speakers of Other Languages, High School Equivalency Preparation, Digital Literacy through Northstar, and Civic Education classes. The Office of Children and Families’ Adult Education division helps connect learners to the classes they need to achieve their personal goals, many of which include improving their job readiness, learning English, and supporting their child’s education. Residents can call 1-833-750-5627 to get connected to adult education and workforce resources.

The Commonwealth Secondary School Diplomas is a high school equivalency credential available to Pennsylvania residents who do not possess a high school diploma and who have met criteria in the Pennsylvania Code. The CSSD may be achieved by passing the GED® or HiSET® tests, or by completing the 30 College Credit Option.