2019 GED® Graduate of the Year Award Winners

Each year GED Testing Service recognizes several recent GED graduates for outstanding achievement with the GED Graduate of the Year award.

This year’s winners are from Illinois, Ohio and Michigan—each with a story of perseverance and determination as they conquered the GED testing journey. 

Winners of the GED Graduate of the Year award received a $1000 postsecondary scholarship, an all-expense paid trip to the GED Testing Service Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois and participated in a professional photoshoot. 

Here’s a look at each of their stories:

(Left to Right) Lillian Rivera, Jennifer Nemchek, Mackinzie Rickabaugh and Reginald Latten (Photo Credit: Moteef Media)

 

Reginald “Reggie” Latten, 2019 GED Graduate of the Year

Reginald “Reggie” Latten of Cleveland, Ohio, is a GED graduate from Seeds of Literacy. 

After taking several practice tests for mathematics and falling short of expectations, Latten committed himself to working with tutors at Seeds of Literacy and utilizing Khan Academy while at home and in-between class sessions. From December 1, 2018 through April 30, 2019, Latten logged 169 total hours on the Khan Academy site. 

Transportation was often a challenge for Latten during his GED process, he would travel for 90 minutes to attend his morning classes and often stayed through the afternoon sessions. Latten also began using the Khan Academy site for lessons on coding and writing computer applications. Within a month of receiving his GED credential, Latten said he wanted to “embrace his future now” and enrolled in Bryant & Stratton College.

“Reggie, like many of our students, values himself as an individual, and is aware that he is connected to things much bigger and more transcendent than that,” said Scott Sanborn, Digital Literacy Coordinator for Seeds of Literacy. “He wants to give back (and has already) to others who are like him, who come to our program broken or defeated, and who lack that dignity to find self-worth.”


Jennifer Nemchek, 2019 GED Graduate of the Year

Jennifer Nemchek of Michigan is a GED graduate from the Family Literacy Center.

 Nemchek started working on her GED credential in August 2015 at the Family Literacy Center. For nearly four years, Nemchek worked with a tutor and diligently attended classes while preparing for each test subject. 

Nemchek also dedicated her time to helping fellow classmates during their GED journeys. While taking classes she took on the role of Community Service Coordinator and started motivation and mindfulness classes to encourage other students. Nemchek plans to become a clinical psychologist. She has enrolled at a local community college and will start classes this fall.

 “Jennifer was always willing to talk to a student that might be faltering in their studies or belief in their ability to get their GED,” said Meredith Donahue, Adult Program Administrator at the Family Literacy Center. “She knows what she wants to do and what she needs to do to accomplish it. Jennifer has changed her mindset and sees setbacks not as failures, but as opportunities to learn.” 


Mackinzie Rickabaugh, 2019 GED Graduate of the Year

Mackinzie Rickabaugh of Wisconsin is a GED graduate from Lakeshore Technical College.

 Rickabaugh enrolled in a pre-college math class at Lakeshore Technical College in fall 2017. She attended the class to prepare for the GED math exam and used it as a prerequisite to her pre-algebra college course. While in Lakeshore Technical College’s Adult Basic Education program, Rickabaugh completed a computer basics class and started coursework for an administrative professional associate degree. While earning her GED credential, Rickabaugh often worked over 40 hours a week while acting as the primary caretaker for her younger sister.

Since earning her GED credential, Rickabaugh has completed 25 credits and is on track to graduate from Lakeshore Technical College in May 2020. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology or complete an associate degree in culinary arts.

“Mackinzie is already demonstrating that she can be successful in post-secondary pursuits,” said Mary Kultgen, high school equivalency instructor at Lakeshore Technical College. “She is currently taking nine credits this summer and is already registered for 16 credits in the fall. She continues to balance taking care of her sister, working, and attending school. She is a very hard working individual.”


Lillian Rivera, 2019 GED Graduate of the Year

Lillian Rivera of Chicago is a GED graduate from Wilbur Wright Community College’s Adult Education Program.

Rivera started taking GED classes earlier this year through Wilbur Wright Community College’s Adult Education Program. She was the first in her class to earn her GED credential, passing all her subjects within just a few months. Rivera decided to still attend math classes to further develop her skills in preparation for college. 

Through the GED Bridge Program, Rivera took a college-level medical course while studying for the GED test subjects. She received an A in the class and is already enrolled in other college courses at the school. Rivera will soon begin classes in the Medical Assistant program at Malcolm X Community College. Rivera is described as highly motivated and a true inspiration to her fellow classmates and instructors.

“Ms. Rivera always goes out of her way to help other students when they are struggling and is extremely patient,” said Rachel Michaels, an Adult Educator at Wilbur Wright College. “Although she comes from a difficult background she completed her GED in a few months at 42 years old and the younger students look up to her for her patience and knowledge.”


Kyle Reckart, 2019 GEDWorks Graduate of the Year
(not pictured)

Kyle Reckart of Ohio is a GEDWorks graduate from Taco Bell. 

Reckart started working at Taco Bell when he was 16 years old. His mother was also working at Taco Bell and previously completed her GED credential through the GEDWorks program. 

Reckart enrolled in the GEDWorks program and passed all of his test subjects within a month. He has since become an ambassador for the program talking to other Taco Bell team members about his story and how easy the program is to enroll in and how much is appreciative for it. Reckart started training for a management position shortly after getting his GED credential. He was certified recently as a shift manager and placed into a restaurant where he is already an influence on others. 

“Kyle gave us his career plan when he enrolled in the GED program,” said Jennifer Rhoads, Area Coach for Taco Bell of Ohio. “We told him we wanted him to go for this even if he wasn’t choosing to stay with us but he said he was determined to be a shift lead for us by the time he was 18. He then explained how his five-year goal was to move to an assistant and have his own store one day. Kyle is a very mature 18-year-old and is such a great example for the youth in our restaurant. I’m excited to watch him grow and show us all the potential he has.”

1 Comment

  1. These stories are so inspiring, yet so indicative of the hard work that GED students have to put into getting their GED and into their everyday lives. As a former GED instructor for 8 years, I can speak from experience to how much tenacity and determination it takes to accomplish what they have. And, as a now community college instructor, I appreciate their determination for pursuing higher education. Congratulations to these students and, of course, to their instructors who were certainly a part of these students’ journeys.
    Tamra Johnson

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