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NEDP Graduation Speaker Shares Her Strength

Erin-Grad-Photo_2019-webGood evening, my name is Erin and I am a National External Diploma Program graduate. Believe me when I say, LIFE HAPPENS TO EVERYONE. Some of you may think, what does she mean? What I do not mean is the technical definition of life; the existence of an individual human being or animal. What I mean by life is the situations or what I like to call "hurdles" that are presented to you at any point of your day during your "existence".

I feel like everyone can relate when I say, "Some hurdles are easy to jump over when you see them ahead of you. Then every once and a while a hurdle sneaks up on you and splat, on your face you go." Some hurdles make getting back up worse than others. I should have graduated in 2002. I did not because of my lack of appreciation and enthusiasm for school. In June of 2002, I turned 18. In September on the first day of school, I excused myself from first period and dropped out.

From that point forward, I knew I didn't have an education, so I better have a great work ethic. I worked two jobs from the day I left school.

Hurdle number 1, In 2005 I was 20 years old, four months pregnant, and married. After having my daughter, I returned to the workforce.

Hurdle number 2 In 2006 I was 21 years old and pregnant with my son. (Yes, they are 16 months apart)

Hurdle number 3 In 2007 my marriage didn't work out. I was a single parent of two babies.

Hurdle number 4 In 2008 my daughter had an accident that left her blind in her right eye, and I was involved in a DUI-related collision. My seatbelt saved my life. (This hurdle hurt.)

Hurdle number 5 In 2010 my daughter began school. My ex­ husband and I decided to have our children live with him for a better chance at a good education and surroundings than what my neighborhood had to offer. (This was the hurdle that hurl the most and still does sting a little.)

Hurdle number 6 In 2013 I took a leap of faith and switched career industries, only to be laid off six months after the purchase of my first new car.

Hurdle number 7 In June 2014 I am was 30 and my current employer hired me and I became engaged to my current husband.

Hurdle number 8 In 2019 my boss looked at me and said "Now we work on you getting a high school diploma." (I won't lie, she made me mad.)  I thought about it, and setting a good example for my kids won the argument. The NEDP was exactly what I needed. Working at my own pace, in-between LIFE, dinners that had to be made, conference calls required my participation, payroll had to be submitted – in between my already operational adult life. Content from NEDP was actually relatable and could be applied to my adult life (Trust me I looked into the interest I paid on my car. YIKES!)

Five months later here I am. I have an official Maryland state high school diploma. So, I will leave you with some things to think about from this point forward. "Life's problems wouldn't be called hurdles if there was not a way to get over them. When something good or bad happens, we all have three choices: we can let it define us, destroy us, or we can let it strengthen us.


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