Brent Maze: Congrats on getting the diploma

By BRENT MAZE,

East Central Community College took time last week to honor graduates of the high-school equivalency program.

These are a different kind of student. They, for one reason or another, were unable to complete their high school careers by walking on graduation night to receive a diploma. However, they didn’t let that get stop them. They went back to school and finished the diploma, which is the same as getting your high school diploma.

In my opinion, those who do this later in life understand the value of getting that diploma. They might be in their 20s or 30s, or they could even be as old as their 60s, 70s or even 80s. I remember one of my fellow church members, Charles Dodd, who went back to get his diploma after he had retired.

He not only did it for himself, but he also did it to set an example for the rest of his family. When he grew up, most people his age didn’t finish their high school diploma. Many of them went to work and got married before age 20, maybe even age 18.

But it was important for Charles to get his diploma. And if you went in his home just down the road from where I grew up, you’d see that diploma displayed proudly in his living room.

When I attended UAB, it was still very much a commuter school at that time. Most traditional students, like me, only spent enough time on campus to go to class and maybe do a few things with friends. We would even catch the occasional UAB basketball game, especially when they might play the likes of then No. 1 Cincinnati and Kenyon Martin.

However, my UAB experience was unique because UAB at that time still had a pretty high average for its student age. That’s because you had a number of students who went back to school later in life to either finish their degree to get that bachelor’s degree after they went straight into the workforce.

I have to admit, I admired those students. I don’t know how they managed working while going to school. Many of them were in challenging programs, such as engineering or medical fields. Yet, they never complained about having too much homework or not getting enough sleep because they stayed up to study after work. They valued the degree much more than traditional students.

So anytime I see someone go back to school later in life, whether it’s to get a new certification for a new career, their bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree, it should be an inspiration to all of us.

Whether it’s a high school equivalency diploma or a college degree, they can teach us the value of a good education. The knowledge is valuable, but it’s not as valuable as the lessons you learn while in school. Those are the lessons of hard work, perseverance and finishing something you start. That’s a reason why diplomas matter on resumes. The degree or the school doesn’t always matter, but the fact that you did it matters.

So those of you who graduated from the high school equivalency program at ECCC, congratulations! You are an inspiration to us all.

Brent can be reached at bmaze@newtoncountyappeal.­com.

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