Quentin R. Johnson: Taking an alternate route to success

Quentin JohnsonA traditional education path begins with preschool learning and advances until high school graduation unlocks the door to expanded opportunities. This customary route does not fit every need, however. Life situations can sometimes cause students to abandon the system. Afterward, unfulfilled learners often discover a renewed desire to pursue basic skills, high school equivalency credentials, and training for employment. Adult education programs fill this gap.

Southside Virginia Community College has been involved in adult education since the late 1980s. We serve students at all literacy levels who are 18 years of age and older and live in the counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, and Prince Edward. We offer adult basic education, adult secondary education, computer literacy, financial literacy, and various integrated education and training programs through partnerships with SVCC’s Workforce Development Department.

Jennifer Bass, a former student in SVCC’s GED credential program, is one example of someone who took an alternate path to academic success. During the traditional years for schooling, she did not complete high school. She reports her pragmatic reasoning as “I was, at the time, not doing very well in school, and I made the decision to quit and get a job.”

Initially, Bass achieved her immediate goals.

“During the time after high school, I worked at an auto parts store, and I was the floor manager,” she says.

After she married and had two children, life became more complicated. Ultimately, Bass decided that resuming her education would help her achieve her goals.

“I questioned myself and had a fear of not being able to learn the material, especially math,” she recalls. She faced those concerns and enrolled in SVCC’s adult education program.

The work was challenging but rewarding.

“I absolutely loved going to class for my GED credential. The support that I received from my teachers and everyone involved was phenomenal,” she says. “I could not have asked for any better support throughout this process.”

Bass reports that it took her about a year to get the GED certificate, which she received in 2019, adding that it helped open new doors.

She didn’t stop with that achievement. Bass went on to earn an Associate Degree in Human Services from SVCC and is currently nearing completion of the requirements for a Bachelor of Science Degree from Liberty University. She also enjoys encouraging others and works with SVCC’s adult education program as an instructional assistant.

Bass would like to tell today’s teenagers who may be thinking of leaving high school before finishing to “stay in school and get your diploma. The GED program is not easy, and it takes dedication.”

For adults who lack high school credentials, she offers encouragement.

“Whatever you do, go back to school and get your GED certificate,” she says. “Stay focused and dedicated to achieving your goals.”

SVCC has helped thousands of students like Bass earn GED credentials. Classes, books, and online programs are free. With grant funding, we are able to offer GED Ready (Practice) tests, and for students who achieve a score of 150 or better, we cover costs so they can take the official credentialing test for free.

For more information about the GED program contact Buffy Allgood at 434-949-1090; buffy.allgood@southside.edu or Lois Hicks at 434-736-2048; lois.hicks@southside.edu.

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, which covers a service area that spans 10 counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.