Success stories such as Joseph’s are only made possible by CEO’s generous program supporters including volunteers and donors. The CEO summer event “Summer In The City” will be a great opportunity for you to help adults-at-risk realize a whole new beginning. Please visit our Event Page to purchase tickets for the July 26th event, make a donation or learn more.
Joseph has been working toward attaining his GED for 6 years. Even after working so hard for so long, Joe’s endurance does not falter. This perseverance is more than partially due to his upbeat, grounded, and grateful attitude.
After just a short time speaking with Joseph, it becomes clear that one of his main motivations in life and learning is his children. He says of their inspiration to him: “I’m doing this for my kids . . . they are so proud of me . . . I want my diploma to be up on the wall at home right next to their diplomas”. At every stage of his learning, family has been the focal point and a great source of support for him.
As a kid, Joe did not attend school regularly. On the occasions that he was present, he was usually under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Becoming a father and husband in his teen years only served to further distance him from his academics. After one more try at the school environment, Joe realized that it did not suit him. Not only was it not right for him, but also did not coalesce with his family life. Being in school took time away from working the hours he needed to help support his family, so he left high school in order to become a better provider.
Providing for his family instead of going to school meant that Joe had to compensate for his illiteracy. Working as a delivery man, he had difficulties understanding and finding addresses; street names were particularly elusive. In order to ameliorate the confusion and avoid the shame he experienced, he would call his wife or someone close to him with whom he was comfortable, spell out the street name, and have the person on the other end pronounce it for him so that he knew where he was going.
It was not until he was incarcerated that Joe learned how to read. In fact, he took great joy in school and learning during his time in prison. “I couldn’t wait for classes”, he reminisced. “I would listen to scripture on tape and read along while I was listening”. He learned to be patient with the learning process, and that it is okay to ask questions. The combination of lessons incarceration taught him and the skills he gained through education has significantly changed Joe’s life trajectory. He now speaks to high school-aged kids about the consequences of drinking and driving and is heavily involved with his AA group. On top of these many good deeds, his dream is to become a peer counselor through Jefferson County Mental Health. This dream comes with the understanding that he cannot attain it without a GED; without an education.
Speaking to the feelings of discouragement that students often feel when working toward their diploma, his advice to others is this: “Learning has been a big blessing for me. Keep trying. You’re never too old; never too stupid”. How Joe conducts himself in the classroom reflects this statement. Full of questions and determination, he inspires others around him to share their minds and to keep working. His patience, curiosity, good attitude, and steady familial support system make Joe’s journey a success story.