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Portland Adult Education Graduation Ceremony on June 16

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Portland Adult Education Graduation Ceremony on June 16
Posted on 06/14/2016
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Portland Adult Education (PAE) will host its graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 16, at 6 p.m. in Merrill Auditorium. Graduating will be 42 students who have attained high school diplomas and 103 students who have passed the HiSET test (formerly GED).

The PAE ceremony is always a very special one. PAE graduates can range in age from their late teens to retirement age or beyond. They haven’t taken the usual high school route for reasons such as illness, disability, working full-time to support their families, moving to new country where they didn’t speak the language, homelessness and even war. Sometimes, PAE students have already completed high school or college, but in another country and in another language.

The Class of 2016 is a highly educated group. Students at PAE take the same number of courses as students at Portland’s high schools to earn a diploma, but this class reveals how much additional prior education adults often bring to their studies at PAE. One-third of the graduates are completing requirements they began at local high schools. Another third are attaining their second high school diplomas because they chose to earn a U.S. high school credential to strengthen their academic English language skills. Five of the students have prior college degrees. Two of the students completed high school and college, but because they could not access their academic documents, they started from scratch and have taken more than 20 classes at PAE.

The following students, who will speak at the graduation ceremony, exemplify the type of determination PAE students show to obtain an education:

Mohammed Al Mshakeel, 36:  Like nearly a third of graduates this year, Mohammed has completed his second high school credential. Forced to flee Iraq, he was unable to retrieve his educational documents, so he started over at Portland Adult Education. By taking four courses each trimester (20 hours of classes per week) and volunteering at the Barron Center for 120 hours, he pushed to finish his credential last year, but a serious illness waylaid his plans. Working to support three young children and attending school simultaneously is tough, but Mohammed earned the diploma and is now preparing for college.

Diane Nizigiyimana, 36: Diane lost her husband and her home to the violence and political unrest in Burundi. Both losses have only strengthened her resolve to provide stability and health for her two young children – and contribute to the health of others – by studying to become a radiology technician. Her progress at PAE has been remarkable; after starting in an intermediate English language class in January 2015, she has already passed her college placement exams with unusually high scores. She hopes to start her degree program at SMCC in January 2017.

The ceremony also will include remarks from PAE Director Bethany Campbell and Interim Portland Superintendent Jeanne Crocker. Two King Middle School students, eighth-grader Jonathan Rugema and seventh-grader Alain Igiraneza, both originally from Burundi, will sing two songs, one of them an original song by Jonathan.

PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured are some graduates from the PAE Class of 2015