Release date: Nov. 30, 2012
Deciding to go back to school is only half the battle.
When Dominique Gardner of West Point dropped out of high school during her senior year to care for her first daughter, she promised herself she would earn her GED once the child was in school. The first daughter was joined by another, but when Anariaha and Jakeria started school, their mother kept her word.
Being a single mother with a full-time job doesn’t always leave time for enthusiasm.
“That five o’clock class was very difficult. I worked from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the circuit clerk’s office at the courthouse and went home to feed the kids. Then I didn’t want to leave the house to see Mrs. Cooper,” said Gardner.
But every day, like clockwork, East Mississippi Community College Adult Basic Education instructor Vicki Cooper saw Gardner walk through the door of her class at the Bryan Public Library in West Point.
“Even if she didn’t have a babysitter, Dominique would put her girls in the children’s room in the library. And the library staff and other students in the class would rally around her to help with the kids, bring the girls candy or whatever it took,” said Cooper.
“My classmates always spoiled them even when I would say no. They would whisper to them, ‘Come over here. Your mama’s mean,’” said Gardner.
Day after day, Gardner showed up on time for class, and stuck with the program even when she had to retake the math portion of the GED test.
“She didn’t give up, and some people do,” said Cooper.
On Thursday night, Gardner got her reward as she walked across the stage at the Lyceum on EMCC’s Golden Triangle campus to receive her GED. She’s now enrolled full-time at EMCC, thanks to the guaranteed scholarship offered to students who earn their GED through EMCC. She hopes to one day work as a special education teacher.
So far, 63 students have earned their GEDs at East Mississippi Community College this school year. Twenty-two of them took part in graduation Thursday at the Golden Triangle campus, including Neil Sistrunk of Maben, who received an award for earning the highest score on the GED test:
Kristin Babbs (Ackerman)
Kakila Campbell (Columbus)
Michelle Crewes (Steens)
Brittany Dailey (Starkville)
Vadaesha Franklin (Brooksville)
Dominique Gardner (West Point)
Cameron Helms (Mathiston)
Crystal Hogan (West Point)
Jessicia Ivy (West Point)
Raven Johnson (Maben)
Lashonda Lambert (Mathiston)
Dessa Lane (Prairie)
Lou-Quan Lucious (Starkville)
Allie Mandolini (Columbus)
Brittany McCarty (Columbus)
Natalie McGee (West Point)
Christian Montgomery (Columbus)
Carrie Orr (West Point)
Neil Sistrunk (Maben)
Sigourney Smith (Starkville)
Shirley Townsend (West Point)
Mitchell Williams (West Point)
Vicki Cooper, an EMCC Adult Basic Education instructor, stands with Dominique Gardner, who received her GED during graduation ceremonies at EMCC’s Golden Triangle campus, and Gardner’s daughters, Anariaha and Jakeria. Gardner is now enrolled full-time at EMCC.
Jim Beard, director of EMCC's Adult Basic Education program, presents Neil Sistrunk with an award for making the highest score on the GED test.
GED graduates celebrate in the Lyceum.