By Christine Brooks, A Success Story of SBCSC – Adult Education
I was home-schooled from an early age until the end of junior high. I enjoyed, with a hefty share of protesting, learning at my own pace and even a little bit differently than other public school students. I would spend afternoons learning how to write letters and book reports with my grandmother, solve mathematical problems with my grandfather, discover history with my father, and visit the library with my mother almost weekly. I was able to take deep dives into any subject that interested me the most in a given week.
The plan was not to be home-schooled “forever,” but to be enrolled in a public school by the end of junior high. Unfortunately, recessions change plans, especially when they make huge financial impacts. When it came time to figure out how I was going to gain a high school diploma, my strengths did not make up for my weaknesses. My reading and writing skills were passable at the time, but I needed help sharpening my math skills before trying for the real TASC (HSE) test. In the summer of 2015, after weeks of stressful online research, I found a program with SBCSC Adult Education that could help me.
Throughout my HSE journey, I did not possess a driver’s license and did not yet consider the wonders of public transit. For six months, three-to-four days a week, my grandfather drove me to and from my morning HSE preparedness classes. He helped me with my take-home math sheets, brought pizza, and encouraged me in many ways. Soon after taking, and then passing the final HSE test, my grandfather’s health began to rapidly decline. In May 2016, my family celebrated my achievement by attending a small graduation ceremony, however, grandfather was unable to attend due to his fragile health. Following the ceremony, I enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College full-time to explore the opportunities college had to offer me.
Throughout my first two years at Ivy Tech, my interests changed from photography to broadcast technology.
In February 2017, my grandfather passed away from cancer. His last words to me were, “Make good choices.” In May 2018, more than a year after his passing, I graduated from Ivy Tech Community College with an associate’s degree in general studies and an interest in communication studies. As I walked across this second stage in my life, I dedicated my mortarboard design to his memory.
But my academic journey was not over yet. Without skipping a beat, I took another big step forward and enrolled full-time at Indiana University South Bend with the intent to earn a bachelor of arts degree in communication studies. At this point, my interests changed again from broadcast technology to journalism and then finally to public relations.
In May 2020, I finished my degree amidst the start of a global health pandemic. Although this time was bittersweet and, in some ways, traumatic, I have continued to develop a strong passion for written communication, intentional and transparent messaging, and the creation of positive employee cultures.
In May 2021, as I was given the opportunity to walk across the third and possibly my last graduation stage, I reflected on my five-year journey from the HSE program to university undergraduate. I also did so with another mortarboard design that reflects my determination and promise to my grandfather to make good choices by displaying the phrase, “Impossible is an Opinion.”
Jenn is the IAACE Executive Director. Her passion for adult education shines through in everything she does for IAACE. You can invite her to a chat for questions anytime. Click here to book a time to chat with Jenn