34 Rockford area graduates earn their GED thanks to local non-profit

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 10:23 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Almost three dozen students from around the area prove you are never too old to go back to school earning their GED, an equivalent of a high school diploma.

No matter if it was testing fees or lack of transportation, Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois staff offered students the resources they need to earn their high school equivalency.

Jack Klosowski is among 34 deserving students to earn their GED thanks to Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois’ GoodGRADS Program, which offers education services and case management to help students overcome obstacles like lack of transportation or testing fees.

“It was so amazing. It was like oh my god, I did it,” says Klosowski. “It feels like a dream come true. That’s what my cap says dare to dream because I didn’t think that I would get here, and I got here because of the support that I got from my grads.”

Jack says she wants to go into business management and eventually become a zookeeper. She says she doesn’t know where she would be without the help of Goodwill.

“I would have never been able to get a job. I’d be in my mom’s basement forever. I don’t think that I would have grown the way that I have. It’s done wonders for me.”

Andrea Oliver came to Rockford from Chicago to earn her GED. She says there were times she wanted to quit, but she never lost hope.

“What kept me from not giving up was my daughter. She’s seven and she has me to look up to. It’s just me and her.”

Oliver describes crossing that stage as an amazing moment. Her next moment? College, to become a certified nursing assistant.

“Nobody is going to be able to do that but you, so you have to go back and accomplish that and keep going.”

Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois started this program in 2016 in Rockford. Since then, they’ve been added in Belvidere, McHenry and Ottawa Illinois.

The organization’s president Ben Bernsten says around 150 students earned their g-e-d because of this program and roughly 160 students are currently enrolled.