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Portland Adult Education 2015 Class of ‘Strivers’ Graduates June 11

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Portland Adult Education 2015 Class of ‘Strivers’ Graduates June 11
Posted on 06/09/2015

Portland Adult Education (PAE) will host its graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 11, at 6 p.m. in Merrill Auditorium for more than 180 graduates. They include 40 students who have attained high school diplomas and the 143 students who passed the HiSET test, a high school equivalency test.

“The Class of 2015 at Portland Adult Education proves that it is a school for the strivers of our community,” said Anja Hanson, PAE academic advisor. “In spite of war, family crises, full-time jobs, disability, and illness, none of these graduates gave up on learning. In fact, all of them have gone above and beyond in their effort to improve their skills and knowledge because they understood the value of earning this credential.”

Some facts about the class of 2015 include:

• The age range of the graduates is 18 to 58.

 45 percent of the diploma students are attaining their second diploma, having completed at least high school and, in many instances, college in another country (such as Iraq, Djibouti and Burundi) and in another language.

Nearly 50 percent of the diploma students are working parents who make time for their own schooling to show their children by their actions how essential it is to earn an education.

17 of the HiSET graduates worked with PAE's Street Academy for Homeless Youth to build skills and pass the test

This is the first full year of testing with the HiSET since Maine changed from using the GED as its test for awarding a high school equivalency credential.

The following students will speak at the graduation ceremony:

Cheryl Giordano, 58: For nearly 30 years, Cheryl had a successful career building from a mail courier to an administrative assistant, but when the hiring procedures changed, and high school credentials were demanded by her employer, she was unable to continue working unless she produced proof of school completion. Initially, she was the victim of a fraudulent GED scam but upon discovery of her mistake, she found Portland Adult Education. After improving her math skills, she passed the HiSET test and is thriving in “the job of her dreams.”

Fartun Hirsi, 29: Fartun is from Somalia, but she earned her first high school diploma in a refugee camp in Kenya. Upon arriving in Maine, she worked two jobs to support her young son while her husband awaited his opportunity to join her in the U.S. as a refugee. Initially, there was no time for school, but when a friend encouraged her to pursue her dream to become a nurse, she set out to improve her academic English and get a second high school diploma. During the past two years, she has rarely missed more than a single day at PAE; her remarkable attendance record persists even though her final trimester of high school completion is also her final trimester of pregnancy; Fartun is expecting a baby at the end of June.

Four college scholarships and five student achievement and persistence awards will also be presented at the June 11 ceremony. Britta Pejic and Friends, a South Portland-based rock/pop group, will perform two songs.