Doors open after taking GED

Vicki Leach and Thelma Musgrove are two of the 14 staff members of the Kenai Peninsula College Learning Center. Well over 100 area residents complete the GED testing process each year through the KPC Learning Center. In January the current test will be replaced by the 2014 GED test. Students who have started the test with the current version will need to complete all aspects of the test by Dec. 20 or start all testing over after January.

Vicki Leach never imagined herself taking college classes. But since receiving her GED in May, she said her future plans include taking classes, starting with basic courses.

The mother of nine spent much of her life as a stay-at-home mom, volunteering in classrooms. After working a bit with a speech pathologist but then finding herself unemployed for a year, Leach, now a grandmother of three, knew she needed to make a change.

One day while at the unemployment office, she noticed a GED class on one of the calendars.

“I thought to myself, now is the time,” she said.

Leach said she thought obtaining her GED would be the right thing to do and it would also fulfill a promise she made to her mother.

“It only took me 40 years to do it, but I did it,” she said

Leach said she spent six to eight hours a week for three months working and preparing to take the GED at the Kenai Peninsula College Learning Center.

“I got excellent help,” she said. “You can come in and study; it is really quiet.”

She took the test in May and soon after found a full-time job as an AmeriCorps Member working in the same center where she received help.

Leach took the current version of the test, most commonly known as the 2002 Series GED. The 2014 GED test, which is totally computerized with an increased price, will replace the current version in January.

Leach said none of the tests she took were on a computer. She and other learning center volunteers will do their best to help make the new process as smooth as possible.

“I think the changes are going to make it harder, but we are going to make it easier,” Leach said.

Today, she works with Diane Taylor, KPC Learning Center Program Manager, and 12 other staff members at the learning center. Leach helps organize volunteers for the center, attends community meetings and goes to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank once a week to help support the GED program and answer questions people may have.

When she came into the learning center the first day, Leach said she did not realize she would end up with a job so quickly, and she is encouraged by the opportunities others have had after taking the test.

“It opens a lot of doors,” she said.

Sara J. Hardan can be reached at sara.hardan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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