When approximately 80 adult learners don red robes to receive recognition at Harris County Department of Education’s Adult Education graduation ceremony on May 20, Anslem Alexander will proudly be among them.
For Alexander, a native of Trinidad and Tobago (an island nation in the Caribbean), the event will be the emotional culmination of a year-long endeavor to earn his GED. Given that his educational goals have had to compete with working full-time and being a father, Alexander has not always had an easy time focusing on his studies.
“It’s hard to work, go to school, and then you have to study at night,” Alexander, a Baytown resident who immigrated to the U.S. three years ago, said. “You just can’t go to school, go back home and go to bed.”
Still, Alexander didn’t view whether to pursue his GED as a tough choice.
“I decided to get my GED because I am an electrician, but since being in the U.S. I’ve had problems getting a job,” he said. “Some of the jobs I really wanted I didn’t get it because they said you have to have a diploma or GED.”
In addition to expanding his professional opportunities, Alexander said his elevated educational status comes with a new level of dignity.
“In life, one of the things I always wanted to be was an educated person,” he said. “Having a GED, you can tell yourself, ‘Hey, I am an educated person.’”
“I felt like a million bucks,” Alexander said, when he learned that he had completed the requirements for the degree.
Alexander credits his HCDE Adult Education teachers for helping him along the way, repeating that they were “very helpful, very encouraging.”
As far as next steps go, Alexander has already enrolled at Lee College in Baytown to start courses in the fall. He will be pursuing his dream of becoming an electrical engineer.
“Education is the key to open doors in this life,” Alexander said, admitting that he’s had to hold back some tears of joy since receiving the news that he’s graduating in May.”
Tears came, they just didn’t fall,” he said, laughing.