GED grads ‘united by sense of worth’

GED Graduate Jonni Anchondo, 17,  is surrounded by family and friends as she gets hugs from everyone at the G.E.D. Commencement at Mesa State Wednesday night. She was happy that she held it together until after the ceremony.

Paul Metsker can’t remember all his old jobs.

There’s a few he’d like to forget.

In the spring of 1992, Metsker decided to drop out of Central High School — at the time just a half-credit short of earning his diploma.

“I’ve been a mover, a flagger, worked a bunch of fast food,” said Metsker, a father of two young boys and recently laid off from his job.

Metsker, 34, who graduated Wednesday as 2008-2009 valedictorian for the GED program administered by Mesa State College’s Testing and Prometric Center, credits fatherhood and his mother’s example for turning his life around.

“I just decided I’m done working jobs with the promise of very little in return,” he said. “I watched a lot of my friends go down that road.”

“It’s never too late to learn something.”

Metsker had a similar message Wednesday night for a crowd of several hundred gathered at Brownson Arena for the GED program’s 2008-2009 commencement.

“We have no shared school memories, but we’re united by our sense of worth,” Metsker told his fellow graduates. “We’ve also been given a great opportunity.”

Jamie Hamilton, chairman and CEO of Home Loan and Investment Company, urged graduates to stay focused on goals and obverse a few simple tips.

“Be on time and work hard,” Hamilton said in the night’s address.

Some 72 people actually walked and received diplomas Wednesday, while 429 passed their GED tests locally for 2008-2009, according to a Mesa State statistical report. Of the 633 people who were tested at the college, 54 percent were men, 46 percent women — 33 percent were 17 years old, the largest age group.

Most said they didn’t finish high school because they “didn’t like school,” but now wanted a GED only for “personal satisfaction,” according to the report.

Metsker, meanwhile, hopes to attend Mesa State College in the fall but hasn’t settled on what he’ll study. He knows what he won’t be doing.

“I’m not meant to be moving furniture,” he said. “I think I’m meant to be studying things.”


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