GED graduation marks the beginning of a new chapter for adult learners—one filled with increased education and employment opportunities. Family, friends, and community members gathered to celebrate that new chapter for 14 adult learners at the 35th Annual GED Graduation Ceremony held in conjunction with Sinte Gleska University’s 46th Annual Graduation Ceremony on August 24 at the Wakinyan Wanbli Multipurpose Building on the university’s Antelope Lake campus in Mission, S.D.

John Gritts, retired U.S. Department of Education Program Analyst, delivered the keynote address and recounted the history of the tribal college movement. He explained the benefits of a culturally-based education and told the graduates to “be proud of what you’ve accomplished. You and your family sacrificed a lot to be here today and for your success. You are armed with a quality education.”

Following the keynote address, certificates and diplomas were awarded. The commencement ceremony concluded with a traditional honoring which included the blessing and tying of feathers and plumes.

GED graduates shared a statement about what motivated them to get their GED and their future plans.

Charlene Cook attended class at the Adult Basic Education program site in Winner, S.D.. Charlene credited her kids for motivating her to get her GED. “I wanted to be able to get a better paying job. Now that I have my GED, I am going to take CNA classes and work my way up to being an RN. My best advice would be to get your GED if you don’t have it because it will allow doors to open so that you can further your life and you won’t be stuck.”

Having a support system can encourage adult learners to continue their education.  Chelsea Lance was motivated by her grandmother, son, mother, and her elementary teacher. “I also wanted to show my older brother that if I could do it, so can he,” Chelsea explained. “The Adult Basic Education Program helped me by furthering my education.  I plan on becoming a nurse/CNA.” Chelsea’s favorite quote is, “The difference between the possible and the impossible is in the determination of the person.”

The stories of Charlene and Chelsea reflect the hard work and determination that is typical of many GED graduates from the Sinte Gleska University Adult Basic Education program.

The program operates with the philosophy that learning is a life-long, continuing process. Each student receives individualized, one-to-one instruction to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to realize their full potential. Support from the American Indian College Fund and the Dollar General American Indian and Alaska Native Literacy and Adult Basic Education Program provides Native students with access to instructional materials, educational software, technology resources, and study supplies necessary to prepare for the high school equivalency tests. More than 2,500 individuals have obtained their GED high school equivalency certificate since the program’s inception over 40 years ago. Visit the Sinte Gleska University web site for more information about the Adult Basic Education program.