City Colleges program helps students earn GED

March 23, 2013 9:01:32 PM PDT
Each of the students at the City Colleges of Chicago's Bridge Program has a story that tells why they didn't complete high school as a teenager.

"I dropped out of high school due to having a baby," said Shaunta Mays, 29.

Like many students, this isn't the first time Mays has considered a return to school.

But after 10 years and four children, she attests that the program has motivated her in working towards a nursing certificate.

Mays and other students say the program has given them another chance at earning a GED.

"I was getting into trouble which I shouldn't have, but I had the wrong influence in my life," said Christopher Wilson. "I'm 23-years-old and I still don't have a high school diploma or a GED. I look at my fellow classmates and what they say and I also pay attention to their age and I don't want to be like that. I want to get it while i have the opportunity to do so."

The Black United Fund at 1750 E. 71st Street is one of several community organizations partnering with the City Colleges of Chicago to offer 30 new locations where students can take courses.

"Currently, we're the only GED provider in the South Shore community. So it helps all of those that do not have a high school diploma to have some place close in the neighborhood that they can walk to two days a week, four hours a day and earn that GED," said Karen Youngblood, Black United Fund.

City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman was a high school dropout who eventually graduated from Olive Harvey and IIT. She went on to become a success. She believes access to education and a clear path to jobs are critical to breaking the cycle of poverty.

"The more you learn, the more you earn. On average a person without a high school diploma or GED earns about $25,000 a year. If in fact that person goes on to get their high school diploma and an associate's degree, they increase their earnings by almost more than 50 percent," said Hyman.

Mays says she agrees and is confident the program will prove helpful.

"It's harder trying to get jobs and trying to manage for yourself without degrees behind you. So I have to take that first step in order to make my kids life and my life better," said Mays.

An interactive map of all of the Adult Education locations offered by the CCC can be found here: