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Adult ed graduates overcome challenging situations to return to school

About 30 people participated in ceremony at Hagerstown Community College

May 19, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Kathleen Dorman an external diploma program graduate was the guest speaker Sunday during commencement at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Kathleen Dorman talked Sunday about her days abusing cocaine and how she was “headed in all the wrong places.”

Dorman — speaking during an adult education commencement at Hagerstown Community College — said she was told that she was never going to amount to anything and for seven years, she prayed to God for help.

That help arrived in the form of a husband who she now credits with being an “angel” in her life.

Dorman moved to Hagerstown from Baltimore and began seeking her high school diploma with help from the Washington County Family Center.

She stood before fellow students, their friends and family members Sunday afternoon and talked about her sense of satisfaction now that she obtained her high school education through what is known as an external diploma program.

“I have a brighter perspective on my life and its possibilities,” Dorman said. “All my dreams have finally come true.”

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About 30 people participated in the adult education graduation program that is often a celebration of students’ dedication to overcome challenging situations to return to school. A total of 86 people completed the high school program.

Among the speakers during the 2:30 p.m. exercises in HCC’s Athletic, Recreation and Community Center was Guy Altieri, president of HCC.

Washington County’s General Equivalency Diploma program used to be offered by the public school system, but it is now administered by HCC.

Altieri said the graduates are different people now that they have their diplomas. He told them that an education never depreciates, and often appreciates, “especially when you build on prior learning.”

Dorman said she is now attending HCC, where she is studying cyber security.

The external diploma program focuses on life skills and costs students $200. The GED and external diploma programs are becoming more rigorous this year, officials said.

Also graduating through the external degree program was Nataya Watkins of Hagerstown. Watkins said after the graduation exercises that she was kicked out of high school in Brooklyn, N.Y.

She said she felt compelled to get her high school diploma because she wanted to be able to tell her three kids that she followed through on her education when she starts pressuring them to complete theirs.

Watkins said before getting her diploma that she took some culinary classes and has started her own catering business.

But Watkins said she fears she has been “low-balling” her prices and started taking business classes at HCC to get a better feel for how to run her catering operation.

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