"If you do the right thing long enough, ... sooner or later it's going to catch up with you."
That was the advice of Dr. Corey Pavitt, a 2010 GED Hall of Fame recipient, to those taking part in The Learning Connection's GED and Alaska Vocational Institute's graduation ceremony Friday, held at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.
"It doesn't always show right away," he continued. "But if you continue to do the right thing, whether it is exercising or being good to other people or work hard or pursuing an education ... there are all sorts of paths to go down. It is apparent to me you are all on a good path."
The 112 graduates came from all corners of Southeast Alaska. About 80 of them were from Juneau, and seven were AVI graduates who had just completed a 20-week training program and apprenticeships.
Their reasons for dropping out of high school were as different as their backgrounds.
Steve Jones, 36, dropped out of a Texas high school in ninth grade.
"It was a long time ago, I don't remember the year... but I will remember this year, that's for sure," he said. "I feel good. With this (diploma) I can better my career and get a better job."
Heather Griffin, 19, dropped out of high school in Juneau last year.
"I want to go further in life," she said. "I want to get a good job. It's exciting to be graduating."
Delores Imboden, 19, dropped out of school two years ago because she was pregnant. The hardest part of getting her GED was arranging child care so she could take classes, she said.
"I have two children. They are out there waiting for me tonight," she said. "I didn't want to be a high school drop-out without my GED."
Alexandria Bennett-Snyder dropped out of high school in January. A junior, she didn't feel like she fit in with her peers.
"It was easy for me to get the GED. Now I am going to work and thinking about college in Washington."
Volunteer of the Year awards were given to Beatrice Franklin and Joan Aufrecht, and a special Tutor Student Recognition award was given to John Williams and Steve Jones. UAS scholarship awards were given to Melody Galeon, Christina Gee and Mario Hernandez.
Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, who's youngest daughter received a GED, began the evening as the commencement speaker, thanking the class for allowing him to speak.
"You folks have accomplished a lot, you should be giving yourselves a big round of applause. I applaud you," he said. "Each of you made a commitment to yourselves and you kept it."
Contact Klas Stolpe at firstname.lastname@example.org.