ELLSWORTH — From music therapy to the Coast Guard to business and beyond, graduates of the Ellsworth Adult Education program have big plans for the future.
“My 30 years experience in adult education hasn’t affected how impressed I am with each of you,” Director Ann Sargent told graduates on June 13.
“Each person on this stage and in the audience has experienced their own journey, their own path, overcome their own obstacles to reach this rite of passage.”
Mary Hill and her granddaughter Mequeyla Mendoza were both among the graduates honored at the ceremony last Wednesday evening.
Hill, who left school when she was 16, has been working toward her high school diploma for three years. Mendoza finished her HiSET exam last year, which the state uses to measure high school equivalency, and was honored last Wednesday for finishing a college transitions course.
“I’ve been doing a lot of different things I thought I couldn’t do in the past,” Hill said after the event.
“I’m learning all over again. I’m really happy about that.”
Both women were also honored as part of the National Adult Education Honors Society. Hill hopes to eventually pursue a career as a certified nursing assistant, and Mendoza will start at the University of Maine in the fall in a pre-engineering program, with an eye toward getting her bachelor’s degree in robotic engineering.
Chris Mitchell, who was honored for completing his HiSET, said he may pursue further education, but for now he’s excited to spend more time with his 2-year-old daughter.
“I never thought I’d wear a cap and gown and have my daughter being there to watch me graduate,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to be a role model for her. When she gets older it’s kind of hard to push her to do something like that if I didn’t do it.”
Mitchell said he hopes his daughter will follow in his footsteps.
“I’d love to see her graduate high school and go to college,” he said. “She’s definitely bright.”
Justine Rhys, who scored the highest on the HiSET exam this year and dreams of being a music therapist, encouraged those contemplating finishing their educations to take the leap.
“Anyone thinking of continuing education should go for it. Don’t be afraid and try. You’ll be surprised!” Rhys said, adding that she “had to overcome personal anxiety and dig down personally to get through it, but it was worth it.”