But the euphoria that comes with walking across the stage of The Forum, finally grasping that diploma and changing that tassel marks a life-changing moment that will open more doors in the future.
Nearly 100 GED graduates felt that euphoria on Thursday evening at the 33rd annual GED Graduation Ceremony sponsored by Georgia Northwestern Technical College and the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority. From the Floyd County Campus, 270 graduates were honored in all, said Diane Elrod, assistant director of the GNTC Floyd Adult Education program.
Each graduate has a unique success story, but Rosalyn Turner — recipient of the Achievement of a Lifetime Award — had wanted her GED for more than 40 years.
“It’s the greatest thing that could ever happen,” said Turner, who is 57 years old today. “I never thought I could ever pass. I took the (final) test three times, and I could never pass it. I’d give up, then I’d start back. I’d give up, then I would start back again.”
Turner said she got pregnant with her first child when she was in high school and had to drop out and get a job.
The Rome native has been working in food service for nearly 40 years. She worked for Darlington Schools for 17 years, West Rome High School for 10 years and had also been employed by Redmond Regional Medical Center and Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital. But finally earning her GED, she said, was the best thing that had ever happened to her.
“That was the greatest day of my life. I just didn’t think I was ever going to do it.”
Turner said she put too much pressure on herself, crippling her mind when exam time came around.
“I went through so much stress,” she said. “I would get so scared, and my nerves would give away, and my mind would lock down. I couldn’t think of nothin’ when I got in that GED room. And then I talked with a lady, and she said to me, ‘Rosalyn, why do you get so depressed? What’s the worst thing that could happen to you if you didn’t pass the test?’ And I thought about that. And I thought about that a lot. I’m like, what IS the worst thing that can happen if I flunked it again? I’ll just take it over.”
She said the last time she walked into that room to take her test, she remembered those words, relaxed and passed her final exam.
“Ever since March since I passed (the test), I just rejoice every day,” she said. “When I think about it, I just get so happy.”
For those students that are in school but who are struggling to finish and throw in the towel, Turner offered her advice.
“Don’t give up; it’s gonna get better,” she said, emphatically. “You just have to buckle down, and if you need someone to talk to and help you through it, because I had help going through it, find someone to talk to. If you need a tutor, or if you know a friend you go to school with and they’re advancing, see if they could help you to make things better for you, but don’t give up, because it will get better.”
Her achievement is both the ultimate gift to herself, but also for her two sons and seven grandchildren.
“I pushed my kids to finish in high school, and so I felt … left behind,” she said. “And I wanted to build my grandchildren up so that will make them want to strive, go forward when they see Grandmamma getting hers at this age. They’re all so proud of me. I didn’t think I was going to pass the test, let alone get it at 57. Trying to get your GED was a lot harder than finishing high school. I did this for me and my children and grandchildren.”