Meet Matt, an inspiring NEDP graduate from New York.
“I first found out about the NEDP through the CASAS website. I thought to myself, this must be too good to be true, so I searched further. I learned that the NEDP is listed on the New York State Education Department website. It was then I was sure it is an official NYS program and that my life was about to change.
I had been out of traditional school since my brain tumor removal surgery in 2002. I was failed by the education system when I was told at 17 I was too old to return to school, and I should just get a GED. Since then, my scholastic journey has been an uphill battle.
I have attempted to enter GED study classes many times. I purchased numerous GED study books and have had a few people tutor me. I always fell short with math. Between battling memory issues from surgery, dyscalculia, ADHD, and mental health issues, obtaining my GED seemed impossible. After some time, the same people who were tutoring me and who were supposed to be my support, began to doubt if I could do it. So, after a long time of trying, I gave up. I said to myself obtaining my high school diploma was not for me. However, deep down, I never truly accepted it.
Fast forward to August 2019. I met someone special who was an immediate inspiration to my life. They had such an unclouded vision, goal, and plan for their life and career. Having faced setbacks and difficulties as I have, I was amazed that they had not given up like I did. We fell in love and are now engaged. They have been a constant cheerleader, backbone of support, never doubting my intellect or abilities. My admiration and awe for this person and the fiery passion in their soul was enough to set the tiny remainder of my spark aflame.
I wanted to catch up to my fiancé's academic standing and goals. We have a life to build together. I had never seen a life for myself, and now here I am having a future I never expected being planned with one of the most amazing humans on the planet. That is when I came across the NEDP. I saw that it met all my needs. I approached my fiancé and said, “I think I can do this. Should I do this?” The response, as usual, was, “You should do it, and of course you can do it, I believe in you.” My small flame was set ablaze, and I enrolled in the NEDP.
As I progressed, I surprised myself with how well I was doing given my previous scholastic track record. I knew more than I thought I did, and my life experiences helped translate to NEDP competencies. I felt more prepared than I imagined. Math was by far the most challenging because of my disability. However, the design of the NEDP let me go at my own pace, and I felt more successful. My assessor was amazingly kind and patient. She rooted for me through my NEDP journey. There is a lot to be said about the support and guidance you receive in the NEDP.
Now that I am a NEDP graduate and have my diploma, I feel more confident in myself and my abilities. Any time that I doubt myself, I look back on this accomplishment and my other accomplishments and I tell myself, “You’ve got this.” You must be your biggest cheerleader. You may not always have someone rooting in your corner, but that does not mean you are not great and that you will not accomplish amazing things for yourself. You must believe in yourself. Do not give up, keep moving forward.
Because I earned my high school diploma, over the next five years I will be attending college. I applied to several colleges. I already have been accepted by three. It has given me the opportunity to achieve my goal in obtaining my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and serve as the steppingstone to furthering my education to obtain my master’s degree. The end of my scholastic journey will entail being a licensed clinical social worker. I want to be able to use psychotherapy to help others the way that it has helped me.
For anyone who is thinking about entering the NEDP, do it. Right now. If not now, when? You may face difficulties, you may face setbacks, it may be hard for some and easy for others. The journey is your own to take and it starts with the first few steps. One foot in front of the other and do not look back. You need to decide right now that you are going to get your diploma no matter what obstacles come your way. This will be the single most important thing you do for you and only you. You are smart, you are worthy, and you’ve got this. Remember to take deep breaths and repeat to yourself, “I’ve got this. I can do this.”