Getting a second chance

ACCC’s adult ed program praised

By JENELLE JOHNSON
Family Living Editor

Register/Jenelle Johnson
Striving to improve their lives through the adult education programs at Allen County Community College are from left, Margarito Solano, Shelley McFadden and Lynne Allison. Not pictured is Mary Borjas.

Lynne Allison said she was a rebellious youth who didn’t think she needed an education. She dropped out of high school her sophomore year.
A former straight A student and scholarship recipient, Shelley McFadden thought partying with her friends was more important than school. She dropped out of school before graduation.
Margarito Solano left school at 16 to join the U.S Marine Crops. He thought he would serve his two years and then complete his education. It was 35 years before he returned to the classroom.
Mary Borjas left high school her senior year in 1984 because she became pregnant.
The common denominator between Allison, McFadden, Solano and Borjas is they all choose Allen County Community College’s adult education department to fill an education void in their lives.
Allison said she decided to return to school to earn her general education development diploma to set a good example for her children. She completed her GED for her own self-satisfaction.
“I was scared when I first came to ACCC, but Karen Culver, my adult education instructor, met me every day with a smile and words of encouragement. I don’t think I could have came back to school without someone like Karen,” she said.
Allison said she was blessed to have been given a job by Community National Bank without having a high school diploma.
“My supervisor at the bank has been so helpful since I’ve returned to school. She allows me to have time to attend classes and has told me my job performance has improved since I’ve been back in school,” Allison said.
Allison completed requirements for her GED in October 2008. Her test scores were high enough to earn her an ACCC Scholarship. This semester she is taking business, writing and computer classes at the college.
“I want to continue my education, and I’m not going to let anything stop me from getting my college degree,” she said.

MCFADDEN IS dedicated to completing requirements for her GED.
After dropping out of high school she had three children, was in a relationship for 14 years and was divorced in April.
She had attempted to return to school three times before coming to ACCC’s adult education classes.
“I get no support from my family. They think I should take a dead-end job. If it wasn’t for Karen’s (Culver) encouragement every day, I don’t think I would be able to succeed in school,” McFadden said.
McFadden has shown her dedication to her education by walking to school one day when she couldn’t get a ride — a hike of 8 miles.
“One of my classmates heard that I don’t have a car and has been gracious enough to come get me and bring me to the college each day for classes,” she said.
McFadden hopes to complete requirements for her GED in October and then begin business management classes at the college.
“Karen has been so helpful. I know if I need help with my lessons at home she is only a phone call away,” McFadden said.

SOLANO SAID BEING laid off from his job of 20 years at the IBP meat processing plant in Emporia was the best thing that could have happened to him.
“If it hadn’t have been for the fact that I lost my job I probably wouldn’t have completed my GED and enrolled at ACCC,” he said.
Solano had intended to return to school on the GI Bill, but life often gets in the way of the best laid plans, he said.
When he returned from the service he married Jeaneene, his high school sweetheart. The couple have been married for 34 years and have three children and 10 grandchildren.
He had always thought he’d like to be a welder and pursued his dream at the vocational-technical school in Emporia.
“I guess some things are just dreams. The vo-tech school just wasn’t a fit for me,” he said.
When he lost his job in Emporia his wife encouraged him to try her former school, ACCC.
“She knew I had always wanted to get my GED, but I was stubborn,” he said.
His wife literally took him by the hand and brought him to enroll in the adult education program at the college, he said.
“When I got to the college Karen Culver asked me, ‘What can I do to help you.’ No teacher had ever shown such concern for me before,” he said.
Solano excelled in his classes and received his GED diploma in May 2008.
He now attends classes at the college on a scholarship and maintains a 3.7 grade point average.
“For my legacy I want my grandkids to say, ‘Grandpa went back to school and not only got his GED but got his college degree,”’ he said.
Solano not only drives to ACCC every day from Burlington, but also holds a full-time position as a custodian in the Burlington school system.
He plans to continue his education and major in architecture or interior design. His wife holds a master’s degree in education and all three of his children are college graduates.

WHEN BORJAS became pregnant her senior year she thought her only option was to drop out of school and get married.
The mother of three moved to Iola in 1997 from Chanute and began working at Russell Stover Candies in 2002.
By 2007, she was divorced and wanted to relocate her family to a new area and new job. She gave her two weeks notice at Russell Stover and before she could move the job prospect fell through.
There had always been the thought in the back of her mind if she had the opportunity she would return to school.
“I was reading The Iola Register and saw the notice offering GED classes at the college, and I thought why not go back to school,” she said.
Borjas talked with ACCC’s Culver, who encouraged her to at least get her GED.
She enrolled in classes and earned her GED in November 2007. She had excelled in classes which also earned her a Merit Scholarship to the college.
She began college classes in January 2008 and will receive her associate of arts degree in accounting in December. She has maintained a 3.8 to 3.9 grade point average and has been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

ALLEN COUNTY Community College’s adult education program’s goal is to help adults improve their skills to pursue careers leading to self-sufficiency and to help them lead more productive lives.
The GED, a Kansas high school diploma, is a springboard to college, said Vivian Copsey, adult education coordinator at ACCC.
Of the 64 GED recipients honored at the 2009 graduation ceremony at ACCC, 72 percent earned Allen County Academic Scholarships. Forty-eight percent of those graduates are enrolled in post-secondary education.
In addition to preparing students for the GED, Allen Adult Education offers work readiness, college preparation for those who already have a high school diploma, basic skill instruction for math, writing, reading and technology and English as a second or other language.
For additional information on adult education classes at the college call (620) 365-5116 extension 250.