“I’ve Changed”
Edward Olvera, 34, of North Hollywood

The medical field has always been my passion–I’d like to become a licensed vocational nurse, or an RN, or maybe even a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant someday. But there was no way I could get into any of those courses without a high school diploma. The fact is, not having my GED limited me in many ways.

I would fill out job applications, even at fast food places, and they would ask, do you have a high school diploma or equivalent? And I would have to put “no,” and it was always a big thing for me. I couldn’t even get a government job because I didn’t have a diploma. And people would always ask me why—why didn’t you graduate from high school? Well, because I didn’t really care for school when I was younger. Because some kids don’t take life seriously. Because so much stuff was going on at home when I was that age—my dad passing away, my mom marrying another man—that I was basically incorrigible. But I wouldn’t tell that to people. I would just say, “I just don’t have one.” But sometimes I would think that a part of my life could have gone somewhere else if I had only gotten my diploma or my GED.

At first, when I heard about the ACC program, I didn’t think I could do it. I’m bad in math. Or, I have a problem with math, is what I guess I should say. Either way, I didn’t think I could pass it. And when I took the sample tests to see what level I was at, math was the only thing I didn’t pass. It took me 60 to 90 days to get on track with it.

My classes were two hours long, math only, and by the second hour of math, I was ready to vomit. But there were two ladies on campus, Cathy and Gail, who helped me and changed my outlook, and after a while, I didn’t get queasy in my stomach at the sight of a math problem. When I finally took the test, I surprised myself. I passed the first time. And I give myself kudos for that, because I went from someone who didn’t know how to do fractions to someone who could overcome obstacles. When the actual GED certificate came in the mail, I started crying. I couldn’t even open it.

Now I’m going to school to become an LVN, and the sky’s the limit. My expected graduation date is May 16, 2014. It’s a 20-month program, but I’m taking it one step at a time, and time is going by quickly. Once I get my license, with God’s grace, I’ll find a job and from there, hopefully, go on to get my RN.

Before, I could see the path, but there were obstacles on it. Now, everything has changed. I’m more confident. Doors are opening. I have a part-time job to help pay for school, and when they asked about my high school diploma, I didn’t have to put that “no” on my job application. It was like, “I have it right here! Let me show you my GED!”

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