YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Melissa Morris-Banta had a good job and a wonderful family. One thing she did not have, however, was a high school diploma. That didn’t seem important until about a year ago when she found herself out of a job through no fault of her own.
"I was forced to sit still and evaluate what I wanted to do with my life," she told her fellow graduates at the Adult Education Commencement at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES in Yorktown. "While it scared some of my coworkers (to suddenly be unemployed), it inspired me."
Morris-Banta now plans to continue her education at Westchester Community College, where she will study behavioral health. Morris-Banta was one of three graduate speakers at the ceremony on June 16.
David Pabon, another speaker, thanked his wife for telling him about the Adult Education program. "It is never too late to set high standards for yourself," he said.
And Walter Groom told the audience, "Anything is possible. You have to want it, you have to work for it." Groom is testament to that philosophy, having failed the equivalency exam three times in another setting before mastering it through BOCES. With his third attempt, however, Groom not only mastered the TASC -- Test Assessing Secondary Completion -- he also completed a Tech Center program to become a certified medical assistant.
Superintendent James Langlois addressed the graduates in English and Spanish and praised them for overcoming obstacles and making education a priority in their lives.
"We look forward to seeing you move on to new areas in your life that you would not have made it to without this program," he said. "You have done something remarkable and absolutely extraordinary. You are a band of heroes."
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