When GED Completion Changes Everything

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This month, beginning with National Charter Schools Week, we will feature stories from charter school graduates from across the country. Check back every day to see a new student feature in our 30 Days of Grad series.

My name is Alfonso Martinez, and I’m 31 years old. I came to the U.S. when I was 17 years old, looking for opportunities to make a better future for my family. When I was 18 years old, I started working in a carwash for $3.00/hour plus tips. After that, I moved on to work in a construction company for $9.00/hour. I tried to find a better job, but without any kind of certification it was very complicated. After too many jobs where I never made enough money to pay my bills and also help my family in Mexico, I finally realized that education is the best way to move forward and get a better job.

Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. is a very important school that people admire and respect. From the first day I visited, they welcomed me with a lot of information about education and how to become a student at the school. It was a new world for me to relate to people with so much knowledge. From the first day I enrolled in the GED program, I began to progress little by little, and it was little by little that I made my dream come true.

To be honest, I was scared I could not do it, but I wasn’t alone; the dedication, effort, and motivation of my teachers pushed me to get ahead. It was the teamwork between teachers and students that led me to my goal. My involvement at Carlos Rosario Community has been extensive. The way that the school has opened the door for me to visualize a better future helps me know that my life possibilities are unlimited. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities that this school gave me for free.

In 2016, my first semester of the year, I participated as the student government representative for Levels 200 and 300 of the Spanish GED program. One of the projects we did in Student Government was the Civic Engagement Fair which educated future voters in DC and promoted citizenship and democratic participation. The fair was a success! The newspaper “El Tiempo Latino” was there that day, and they conducted some interviews and took some pictures of the event. The next week, my interview and picture showed up in the newspaper with the full explanation of our goal of promoting the vote and civic participation of the Carlos Rosario School community. I learned the importance of each person knowing about their rights in this society and that I can help make that happen. I also participated in the Black History Month Essay Contest and I won first place, earning a medal that I keep as a treasure.

I passed my last GED test on December 14, 2016, and in June of this year, I’m going to march at the Carlos Rosario graduation. I already have my high school diploma, and it’s incredible how achieving that dream helps me to continue dreaming. I applied to a new school that Redken, Inc. just opened in D.C. - “The Salon Professional Academy.” They accepted me, and I’ve started my studies there. This school offers the full program of cosmetology, and I hope I can finish it and keep preparing myself to become an esthetician. One of my dreams is to come back to Carlos Rosario and talk with the students who are getting their GED, to give them information and tips about the cosmetology program and also about my career path.

[Click to Tweet] .@CR_School graduate Alfonso Martinez shares his story of civic engagement #30DaysofGrad