There is no such thing as a “typical” GED student. Looking at the numbers at Neighbors Along The Line shows us our typical GED student is a female in the age range of 18-25 years old. Paul came to us in May of 2010 and had been out of high school for over 30 years. Like many who quit high school, Paul went to work. “I didn’t think I needed my GED,” he explains. After running into a little legal trouble, Paul had some motivation to change his thinking. He found Neighbors through the Tulsa DUI Court system. Participants in the DUI program must obtain their GED and Paul chose to study for his test at Neighbors. “The location was really convenient for me,” Paul says. The court requirements weren’t Paul’s only reason for wanting his GED. Early on in his studying, Paul confided that his 15-year-old daughter and he had a bet as to who would finish their diploma first. Whoever finished first would get taken out to dinner. His children were a great encouragement to him throughout his studying, even coming with him occasionally to study or volunteer.
Although it didn’t start out a priority for him, Paul couldn’t have been happier than when he successfully passed his GED test and is quick to point out the benefits he’s seen. “It’s really helped me out so far. I have my foot in the door to a better job. I wish I had been smarter earlier and finished my school,” he laughs good-naturedly.
One of the advantages for working adults like Paul is that Neighbors Along The Line’s GED program is a computer based, self-paced program which allows students to set their own schedules. Most programs available to people around the Tulsa area are either classroom based with a set class time or online programs that can be costly. Neighbors’ GED prep program is totally free to its participants. Paul also took advantage of Neighbors’ GED scholarship program. When a student is ready to test, we will pay for the test fee in exchange for minimal community service hours at our facility doing tasks such as helping during our daily food pantries or shelving books in the library.
“You all really helped me out,” Paul says. He has shown his appreciation to Neighbors by volunteering in our food pantry on occasion even after his scholarship hours were completed. When Paul is asked about his choice to give back time to us he replied: “One hand washes the other – that’s how I was raised.”
Paul won that bet with his his daughter with time to spare. He now stands as an example for his children to reach their goals and finish what they start. He continues to work two jobs and has his sights set even higher – he’s thinking about college. Paul says once he has a year of college under his belt he can get farther in his career. He is learning about using GPS technology to specify coordinates for manholes for the City of Tulsa, a newer technology that allows for much more efficient work.
“You all help out so many people,” Paul says about the work done at Neighbors. “I didn’t know there was a place like that created around here.”