Passing the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (the high school equivalency exam that replaced General Educational Development test in NYS) enables Odyssey House residents of any age to reach a higher platform of educational achievement and gain numerous personal, financial and social benefits. Today, Odyssey House held a graduation ceremony for 33 residents who earned their high school equivalency diplomas to celebrate their success.
Elyssa Gersen-Thurman, director of work readiness for HOPE Program, congratulated the graduates for their perseverance: “Prepping for this exam while actively engaged in the recovery process is an endeavor that requires dedication and stamina that would make most people give up.” Ms. Gersen-Thurman urged them to continue on with their education, reminding everyone that “learning does not have to take place in a classroom or school, or even cost money.”
April S., the graduate speaker from the Manor Family Center, described how her education was derailed after a car accident in high school left her with traumatic brain injury and short-term memory loss, and unable to walk or talk for three months. After regaining her ability to walk and talk, April attempted to return to school but was beset with difficulties stemming from the accident. Now a mother of two, April used her time in treatment to get her degree and be a good role model for her children.
April (left) credits her support system, including friends like Cheryl (right), for encouraging her to work on her recovery and pursue a high school equivalency diploma.
“Last year I asked my daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said, ‘I want to be just like you, Mommy.’” I knew then I had to go back to school and show my children that they can accomplish anything they want if they work hard and believe in themselves,” April said.
Odyssey House’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education and Project Restart, provides on-site educational services available to all residential clients and administers the TASC four times a year.