Keep your Head Held High

On June 13, 2019, a dream finally came true for many adults who had not completed their high school education. Friends and families gathered in Wait Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University to honor graduates in the Adult High School and High School Equivalency from the College and Career Readiness program at Forsyth Tech.

Dr. Sydney Richardson, dean of the College and Career Readiness, welcomed the audience and congratulated the graduates on arriving at this moment. Shannon Taylor-Stanley, instructional coordinator of Adult High School/High School Equivalency, sang, “The Climb,” by Miley Cyrus. Lyrics include ‘my faith is shaking, but I gotta keep trying, gotta keep my head held high…it’s not what’s on the other side of the mountain, it’s the climb.’

Dr. Janet Spriggs, president of Forsyth Tech, was the keynote speaker who shared her own climb from a community college graduate to community college President. She encouraged the graduates to “Work hard. Stay humble. Be kind. And make a difference.” Her story inspired graduates to pursue their own dreams and never think it cannot be done.

Two Graduates Who Successfully Made the Climb

Two of the graduates, Christy Cobbler and Robert Ward, knew they could do it. They pursued their goal to earn their high school diploma after being out of school for several years.

Cobbler dropped out of high school, raised two daughters (one who is now in the nursing program at Forsyth Tech) and started her own cleaning business. She completed her high school equivalency at the Stokes Center in less than a year (which is not the norm for a student who has been out of school over 15 years). She dedicated herself to completing the HSE in time to register for Nurse Aide I classes with Forsyth Tech for Fall 2019.

“In some ways, school was a stress reliever to me because when I was in class I could only concentrate on the work in front of me and not what was going on around me,” Cobbler said. “I really appreciated Ms. Mary Jo Whitley who helped me so much. I want to continue encouraging my daughters to continue their education.”

Christy was a member of Forsyth Tech’s inaugural class of National Adult Education Honor Society students. Her ultimate goal is to move into a curriculum degree program in order to ultimately apply for the Associate Degree in Nursing.

Another graduate, Robert Ward, experienced his own winding journey. Originally from Fayetteville, N.C., Ward moved to Winston-Salem last year, describing he was in a hopeless state. He moved into the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, seeking new opportunities to make changes in his life.

“I had an amazing support group and they helped me believe I could do this,” Ward said. “I had a better outlook on life and applied myself. If I can give someone hope that they can do this, I would tell them to go check it out, it’s never too late.”

Dropping out of high school two months before graduation in 2006, Ward is now 32 years old. He said the feeling of graduating is indescribable. He said he was willing to take eleven months to complete his diploma because he knew it was worth it.

As a fitness consultant, Ward wants to continue his education in Business Management or Accounting. He looks forward to giving back to the community, perhaps working with other support groups, to share his experience and help others.