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‘Don’t give up’: 5 adult learners share advice

These adult learners share why they want to pursue a GED and what motivates them. (Images provided by sources)

Going back to school as an adult can be overwhelming. From finding the right program to the schoolwork itself, it can be hard to know where to start and how to find the motivation to keep going.

These five students think about why they want to pursue General Education Development or a High School Equivalency Diploma and share tips with their fellow learners.

Interested in pursuing a GED or HSED? Read: It’s Never Too Late: Six Adult Education Programs in Milwaukee.


Noun: Teresa of the Cross

a program: flight home

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(Photo courtesy of Teresa de la Cruz)

Teresa de la Cruz gets a GED for her three daughters. When they struggle in school, you want to help them. It was also her dream to continue her education.

De la Cruz is a student at Journey House, which offers a program for adults looking to obtain a GED.

Upon completion of the program, de la Cruz hopes to change careers. She currently works as a school cleaner, but her hope is to open a childcare center.

The program may seem difficult at first, but it gets easier.

“You can make your dreams come true,” she said. “You think you can’t, but you can.”

She said Journey House is great. The teacher Juan Lopez is very helpful, and the students can get one-on-one help.


Noun: Silvia Glass

a program: flight home

(Photo courtesy of Silvia Fedrio)

Silvia Fedrio grew up in Mexico, her dream was to go to school, but the school was expensive, and her town did not offer a proper education. When she came to Milwaukee, Fedrio’s dream became possible.

Vidrio takes GED classes through Journey House. She has been on the program for three years. Her goal when completing the program is to get a better job and provide a better life for her family. Even though she’s not sure what she wants to do yet, one of her constant homework is to think about it.

Fedrio said Juan Lopez, the adult teacher at Journey House, is the best part of the program. When you start to doubt or struggle, Lopez is there to offer words of encouragement. She said Journey House also offers a lot of support.

The biggest tip she gives adult learners is to give it a try.

“You have to try and, little by little, you will be motivated,” she said.

As Vidrio prepares for her math exam, she takes her own advice to heart not to give up.

“If someone dreams that dream, don’t stop there,” she said. “Keep fighting and moving forward.”


Noun: Manconas drowning

a program: Milwaukee Area Technical College

(Photo courtesy of Tony Manconas)

For the past 20 years, Tony Manconas has been working towards her high school equivalency diploma at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Last fall, I entered the school’s 5.09 high school completion program. Manconas is the first person in her family to complete high school.

For her, it’s more about proving she’s more than her past struggles. Her children and friends have been a constant source of support.

Manconas plans to attend MATC for college and study sign language interpretation.

Her advice to adult students is not to give up. People may think a diploma is just an unimportant piece of paper, but it stands for more than that, she said.

“Don’t give up,” Manconas said. “No matter how hard it is, just don’t give up. Keep going don’t bother.”

Finding the right teachers played an important role in the success of Manconas in the programme. They understood her problems and helped her get through them to get her to where she is today.

She said MATC is a very private school.


Noun: Josefina Romero

a program: flight home

(Photo courtesy of Josefina Romero)

When Josefina Romero was 11 years old, she had to drop out of school. Her family was struggling to put food on the table, and they needed it to work. It has been working since then. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Romero lost her job and decided it was time to focus on her goals.

“I realized that I was always thinking of others and not myself,” she said. “I want to do this for me.”

Despite having been in the United States for 26 years, Romero has never heard of educational programs for adults. Her niece and sister-in-law tied her up with the GED program at Journey House and soon after, she started taking the courses online.

She said that education leads to opportunity.

Her goal now is to complete the program. She said it’s tough, and at times she struggles to balance her education with other responsibilities like work and family.

Romero’s advice to students is to realize that they are not alone in the struggle.


Noun: Enrique Gonzalez

a program: flight home

(Photo courtesy of Enrique Gonzalez)

Education is important to Enrique Gonzalez. In practice, getting his GED might lead to a better job and help him keep his deferred action card for childhood arrivals, but he also learns a lot. Gonzalez uses the knowledge he gains in classes like math and American history to apply to his daily life.

Gonzalez participated in Journey Houses’ GED Program, which helps students prepare for their GED exams.

The hardest part, he said, is sticking with it, but Journey House does a good job of explaining things and making them understandable.

Sometimes adults are afraid to go back to school because they don’t want to give a wrong answer, Gonzalez said, but everyone is there to learn, and no one cares if someone gives a wrong answer.

“If you want to, you can make it happen,” Gonzalez said.

In case you missed it: ‘I Put On This Bookbag And Did What I Had To Do’: How Adult Learners Can Put High School Behind Them.

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