“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.
“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.”