Date: February 6, 2013
Monroe native Patricia Jackson bumped into a reality check a little more than a year ago when she asked her “Cousin Dee Dee”, for a job in the relative’s day care center. The cousin, Lolita Young, told Ms. Jackson — who dropped out of high school in 1993 — that she first would have to earn her GED if she wanted a job at the child care center.
That jolt of honesty hit Ms. Jackson hard, but instead of knocking her down, it motivated her to start over and pursue a new career path.
“I was shocked but not discouraged,” Ms. Jackson said.
The 37-year-old began taking Adult Education courses in January, 2012 and obtained her GED the following June.
The very day her GED papers arrived in the mail, and with an eye on earning a Culinary Arts degree, Ms. Jackson enrolled at Athens Technical College. She began taking classes that fall semester, and currently is immersed in her second semester of course work.
Ms. Jackson’s determination and positive attitude helped her earn the Athens Technical College nomination for the Technical College System of Georgia’s statewide EAGLE (Exceptional Adult Georgian in Literacy Education) Award.
The EAGLE program celebrates adult learners and recognizes students who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in adult education classes. The EAGLE program is designed to create a greater awareness of educational opportunities that are available in local communities across the state and to foster involvement in lifelong learning pursuits.
Adult education teachers nominate students at the local program level to participate in the EAGLE recognition program at the state level. Selection criteria include student character, attitude, attendance, leadership, and community involvement and activities. From this group, one student is selected to represent the local program at the state EAGLE Leadership Institute, which provides professional development sessions focused on increasing leadership, communication, and life management skills. All EAGLE nominees will be honored in Atlanta in March when the eventual EAGLE Award winner will be announced.
When asked why she dropped out of high school, Ms. Jackson responded that at the time she didn’t realize how important getting an education was. Her cousin’s rejection opened her eyes.
“Had it not been for Cousin Dee Dee’s turning me down, I would not have my GED today.
Ms. Jackson has set her sights on a new goal — starting an eating establishment.
“I can, and I will use culinary arts, the training I am pursuing, to open my own business, a unique restaurant oriented toward serving healthy food for healthy living,” she said.
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