Age is no barrier: Western Tech students graduate with GEDs

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) –Western Technical College held an open house graduation ceremony for people who finished their GEDs and HSEDs.

Whether you’re 18 or 80, it’s never too late to walk across that stage and graduate.

“I always had a struggle to get through high school and stuff,” Western Technical college graduate, Sam Anderson, said.

Elijah Rudie, another graduate said, “I was what you would call a bad kid and I just dropped out.”

Both Rudie and Anderson both have bright futures ahead of them.

“I am going to get my license, get my CDL, and become a truck driver,” Rudie said.

Anderson’s parents say they’re hoping their son will pursue further education.

“We’re hoping and Sam is hoping to continue on and get a tech degree,” said Anderson’s stepdad, Michael Murray.

Their futures that are brighter now that they’ve graduated.

“There’s a lot more doors that have opened up for me,” Rudie said.

Both Rudie and Anderson graduated with High School Equivalency Diplomas from Western Technical college. They are just two of the 270 GED graduates this year.

“We are graduating more students than ever with this increased flexibility I think since COVID,” said Mandy Church Hoffman, the dean of learner’s support at Western Tech.

Western Technical College offers free GED classes for people looking to complete their diploma. If people are unable to afford the cost of their GED test, the college will offer financial support.

“Cost should never be a barrier for people to come back,” said Hoffman.

Students are able to complete their degree at their own pace.

“I didn’t have the pressure of being in a regular classroom, so they put me in a program for the HSED and that worked out just super,” Anderson said.

An accomplishment many students and their families have been waiting for.

“It feels phenomenal, like I can’t even describe the feeling to you because I’ve been waiting a long time to graduate. It’s like a dream come true for me,” Rudie said.

“Don’t lose faith with your kid. They’ll do it, they’ll get it done,” said Anderson’s mom, Rebecca Murphy.

And it’s one that’s possible at any age.

“It is never too late to get your degree. I’m 23 years old and I just got my degree,” Rudie said.

“I finally got it at age 47. That’s my age now,” Anderson said.

Western Tech says they are expecting 250 students for next years program, but the door is always open for more.