NAUGATUCK — When Ashley Rymer-Chase’s husband died last year, she needed to find a way to provide for herself and her 3-year-old daughter.
Rymer-Chase, a 24-year-old Naugatuck resident, had one year of high school left to complete and knew she wanted to attend college. So she enrolled in the Naugatuck Adult Education’s Credit Diploma program last August.
After nearly a year of taking classes four nights a week, Rymer-Chase was one of a couple dozen adult education graduates, ranging in age from 18 to around 50, who celebrated their graduation at Naugatuck High School May 30.
Some earned a Connecticut high school diploma after passing the General Education Diploma (GED) exam. Others graduated with a Credit Diploma and a third group graduated from the National External Diploma Program (NEDP), according to Naugatuck Adult Education Director Heather Pelletier.
“I am truly very proud of each and every one of you, and I hope you’re proud of yourselves,” Pelletier told the students.
Maria Colon, a NEDP student, enrolled in the program to pursue her dream of becoming a substance abuse counselor. She said in addition to her NEDP requirements, she was also taking substance abuse counseling courses online through Stratford Career Institute.
Now that she’s graduated, she plans to continue that coursework and ultimately get a counseling certification.
“As far as the research I’ve done so far, it’s 60 credits in college to get your certification,” Colon said. “It should take me about two years.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Naugatuck resident Kyle Greensway was also among the graduates, having decided to finish his high school degree after working for a lawn care company for 13 years.
“I came back to school because I just want to have a better my life and have a career, instead of just doing a job,” Greensway said. “I had an epiphany one day, that now is the time to do it, because time doesn’t wait for no man, or woman or anyone, and it was just time to realize that you need this to achieve the goal you want to get to in life.
He said the program wasn’t hard as long as he showed up, was attentive and did the work.
“You do what’s required, and (do it) one day at a time. And then you get to graduation,” Greensway said. “So patience is a virtue.”
Now, Greensway plans to pursue a career in law enforcement.
All three graduates stressed the supportive nature of the program in helping them make it to graduation day.
“You get a lot of support, a lot of help from each teacher, from all your friends,” Rymer-Chase said. “It’s just amazing how sometimes people believe in you more than you believe in yourself.”