Briya high school graduates celebrate their achievements

“Getting my diploma was challenging, but I did not give up,” Alba Hernandez said, addressing her fellow Briya high school graduates and their guests during a ceremony this June. “I felt frustrated and like I couldn’t do it, but at the same time, I knew I had to. No matter what the barriers were, my goal was to get my diploma, and I am so happy to finally graduate.”

Five students earned their high school diploma through Briya’s National External Diploma Program (NEDP) in spring 2017, and they celebrated with faculty, family, and friends during a graduation ceremony. The NEDP, which Briya offers to students in the most advanced English level of its Two-Generation Program, is specifically designed to meet the needs of adult learners.

Alba Hernandez, 2017 NEDP graduate

“I decided to enter the NEDP because in my country, Guatemala, I couldn’t finish high school,” Hernandez said in her speech. “And I learned many things in NEDP, including improving my reading and writing, as well as practical things that help me in my everyday life.”

Hernandez shared that for her, one of the most relevant topics turned out to be learning about diabetes in the health unit of the program. Months later she was diagnosed with diabetes herself, and she felt much more confident in her understanding of the illness and its treatment because of what she had learned through the NEDP.

During the ceremony, students each received a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” a gesture to celebrate their hard work and bright futures, as well as to honor the importance of their young children and families. Lenora Robinson Mills, COO of the DC Public Charter School Board, then officially conferred the diplomas on the graduates.

Judy Kittleson, Briya’s NEDP Coordinator, congratulated the students on the dedication and perseverance they showed as they balanced their studies and the rest of their lives.

“These students have demonstrated the competencies required for the NEDP,” she said, “but they’ve also demonstrated that they are invested in their children’s schools, in their work, in the lives of their families, and in their communities. You all should be very proud of these graduates and what they have accomplished. Thank you, graduates, and congratulations.”

NEDP Graduates 2015

Students earn high school diplomas from Briya

“My goal is to be a good mother to my children and have them see that it is never too late to study,” said Florencia Ibarra, one of three students who earned her high school diploma from Briya this June.

Ibarra, a mother of four from Mexico, started as a student in the Intermediate II class of Briya’s Family Literacy Program seven years ago. She has since improved her English enough to move to the Advanced I class and then to Advanced II, in which students are eligible to enter Briya’s National External Diploma Progam (NEDP).

The NEDP is an adult high school diploma program in which students work one-on-one with an adviser to demonstrate competency in a variety of areas. The program is performance based rather than test based, and the educational content is designed to be relevant to the life experience of adults.

The program provides students with the flexibility to work at their own pace and on their own schedule. This is significant for Briya students, who often have to balance raising children, working and attending class, among other responsibilities.

Student giving thumbs up after receivng her diploma“Briya is a school that understands us as adults, parents, and students,” said Guadalupe Martinez, another 2015 graduate. “NEDP is not only at the school—I can also work at home. And the teachers support and help me when I need it.”

Earning a high school diploma from the United States helps open up many career and educational possibilities. The third 2015 Briya NEDP graduate, Wendy Evora, is continuing her education as a student in Briya’s Medical Assistant Program. Ibarra and Martinez both hope to get jobs working in an office.

All three 2015 graduates said they would encourage other immigrant parents to consider entering Briya’s program and earn their diploma.

“I would say to people that are looking for success that they will find help at Briya,” Evora said. “No matter what they are facing in life, the Briya teachers and staff are always there to help.”

“I think the most important thing is perseverance,” Ibarra said. “Nothing is impossible. I hope this helps others be confident and think that if somebody else can do it, they can too.”



Briya has been offering the NEDP—which is sponsored nationally by Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS) and locally by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)—since the 2010-2011 school year. Sixteen students have graduated from Briya’s program so far, and ten students are currently enrolled.

Briya’s First Grads

Grads put on their capsBriya grad before the ceremony

On June 25, for the first time, Briya Public Charter School students were awarded high school diplomas bearing the Briya name and logo. Six students donned cap and gown for the graduation ceremony. These Briya students spent many years studying English, math, computers, parenting, critical thinking and life skills  in order to earn their diplomas through the National External Diploma Program (NEDP). NEDP, overseen in the District of Columbia by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, is a nationally-recognized program for the assessment of high school-level skills in adults.


To see pictures from this year’s graduation and recognition ceremony, click here!