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E2CCB Adult Education students earn diplomas

Pictured is Jerome Rogerson, one of nine students who recently celebrated the earning of their diplomas during a gathering at the Dunkirk Community Learning Center.

Many will remember COVID-19 and the difficulties associated with the pandemic, but for several adult education students 2020 will be the year they were able to finally say “they did it!”

Recently, nine students who were enrolled in the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES High School Equivalency program gathered together to celebrate their earning of a high school diploma. Despite limitations placed on them due to New York Pause, many of the students persevered and completed the program over the summer and into the fall.

In some cases, circumstances out of their control kept them from earning their diploma the first time around and they made sure that wasn’t going to happen again.

“I decided to enroll in the program because it was about that time. I didn’t get my diploma when I was younger, it didn’t work out,” said 28-year-old Miguel Colon, who left New Jersey during his junior year of high school. “I wish I would have stayed for my senior year but life hit and things happen. I reached the point where enough was enough and it was time so I went for it.”

For mother-of-four Dawaris Rosa, earning her diploma after high school was a challenge until she enrolled in the E2CCB program.

Pictured is mother-of-four Dawaris Rosa who completed the program and is now enrolled at Jamestown Community College.

“I dropped out of high school because my school would still pass you each year but if you don’t have enough credits in 12th grade you’re not going to graduate. I was in the 11th grade but I had like six credits so I just decided to stop going,” she said. “I tried a program like this in the Syracuse area but it was too big, it didn’t work out.”

Students who enroll in the program must first complete a TABE exam to determine their math and reading comprehension skills. Afterward, students will be evaluated to see what areas they need more help in.

“We’re ready to work with people. We can give them as much 1-on-1 as they need. It’s exciting to work with adults and we’d love to see more people in the program,” said Beth Bradley, who has been teaching the program for 20 years. “It’s a great opportunity to work with people who may have struggled through high school and give them a chance to further their education and move them on to the next step.”

Going back to school later in life is not easy by any means and it takes a certain drive and motivation to see the program through. But once completed the struggle can feel validated.

“I came back for two reasons, number one because I have two children and they’re getting older. I didn’t want to be one of those parents that sees their kids graduate and I’d never been able to do it,” Colon said. “The second reason was for a better work environment. There are more opportunities for you when you have a diploma.”

Eight students recently earned their diploma by completing the free Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES Adult Basic Education course held in the Dunkirk Community Learning Center on East Second Street. Pictured, from left, are Miguel Colon, Krizya Collazo, James O’Connell, Dawaris Rosa, Ada Rivera, Cody Davis, Kachina Grace and Jerome Rogerson.

For Rosa, the taste of earning her high school diploma wasn’t enough and she’s now enrolled in Jamestown Community College.

“I just wanted to finish school … I didn’t feel like I achieved anything so I wanted to make sure I had at least that. Believe it or not I ended up continuing on to JCC,” she said. “Turns out I was pretty good at math which I didn’t know.”

The program operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-3 p.m. inside the Dunkirk Community Learning Center on the corner of East Second and Washington streets and Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Chadakoin Center, 114-122 W. Third St. in Jamestown. Students can enroll at any point and there is no timeframe to complete the program.

“When people started to get to know each other through learning it helped more,” Rosa said. “You learned what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses were and if you want to you can help that person and they’ll help you in ways you need it, too.”

For more information about programming at the Chadakoin Center please call 484-6190 and for the Dunkirk Community Learning Center please call 366-3631.

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