Adult education grads persevere

NAUGATUCK — Devin Dows struggled to find success in the traditional classroom setting at Naugatuck High School.

“I started to accept the fact that school wasn’t for me and I’d never be successful no matter how hard I tried,” said Dows, a 20-year-old Naugatuck resident.

That was until he enrolled in the Naugatuck Adult Education program in 2015.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” said Dows, who was one of the more than two dozen students who graduated from the adult education program June 1 during a ceremony at Naugatuck High School.

Dows, who plans to join the military, earned the program’s Director’s Award.

The program serves students ages 17 and older from Naugatuck, Wolcott and Oxford. It offers an adult high school credit diploma; a general educational development diploma, or GED; a National External Diploma Program; Adult Basic Education; English Language Acquisition; and a Citizenship program.

Most importantly, it offers an alternative for students.

“What works for one does not work for all, and we each have an individual, personal formula. Education is no different,” said graduate Eugenia Neto, who received the Adult Education Faculty Award.

Words like grit, tenacity and perseverance kept coming up during last week’s commencement ceremony as speaker after speaker addressed the graduating class.

“Without perseverance, drive and initiative, you would not be here today,” Naugatuck Board of Education Chairman Dorothy Neth-Kunin told the class. “For this, you should feel proud of your accomplishments.”

Mayor N Warren “Pete” Hess said the graduates represent what Naugatuck is all about.

“We’re a town that’s very inclusive … we love people with grit, with tenacity, people who never ever give up,” Hess said.

At times, Luna Amorium said the graduates faced challenges and felt like giving up, but they made it.

For Amorium, 19, of Naugatuck, her challenges included leaving her family behind in Brazil to pursue her education.

Amorium grew up here, but her family moved to Brazil in 2008. Last July, she came to Naugatuck alone at the age of 18. She came to the borough knowing she would be on her own and have to pay for her education. She worked during days and took classes at night.

Amorium said she would call her family in tears thinking she wouldn’t have the means to make it. She recalled her father telling her she had already won because she left to follow her dream.

Now, she plans on pursuing a criminal justice career, with her high school diploma being the first step.

“Each of us has thrown away the conventional map of high school, but we are starting to draw our own map for the future by graduating from Naugatuck High School adult education,” Amorium said.