Assignment: Education – A second chance

Going back to school and receiving a diploma tends to put a smile on on many peoples’ faces.

“It wasn’t too difficult,” said Delores Warthan, a graduate of the Goal Oriented Adult Learning program at Western Technical College. “Some of the math was a little bit harder.”

Warthan, a Sparta resident, is one of those people.

“I wanted to be done before my daughter was born,” said Warthan. “So kind of tried to do it quickly.”

In just six months, this 29-year-old high school dropout earned her High School Equivalency Diploma at Western.

“We’ve been helping folks get ready to do a high school equivalency since 1969,” said Chad Dull, dean of the Learner Support and Transition Division at Western Technical College.

The alternative high school programs at Western allow people to finish the classes needed to receive the equivalent of a high school diploma and prepare for the possibility of college.

“I think probably the neatest thing about it is that these are our friends and our neighbors in this community,” said Dull. “So it really changes lives right in front of us.”

“I had some rather unconventional problems at home concerning family,” said Warthan.

When Warthan was in high school, education wasn’t a priority.

“I felt mainly that it wasn’t important, because I wasn’t told it was important,” said Warthan. “Just maybe that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t feel really confident in myself.”

Warthan dropped out of high school her junior year and found it hard to support herself.

“Finding a job would take months, and you’re lucky if you find a job,” said Wathan. “And that’s at minimum wage, which is next to nothing in this economy.”

As a mom of two with a baby on the way, Warthan knew it was time for a change.

“So my main motivation was so that I can provide for my children and show them that it’s important to have an education,” said Warthan. “And if I show them rather then tell them, it’s more motivating for them.”

She knows the choices she made — which landed her in Western’s Project Proven program, designed to help educate people who have been incarcerated — is a hard path.

“No matter how far you think your life is down the tubes or you think you can’t do it, you can,” said Warthan.

“And there is a chance to change. And these people here at this school care.”

“Delores is a shining example of someone who’s not only changed her future but changed the future for everyone that’s going to come after her,” said Dull.

“My children will know that their mom isn’t just a failure or someone who does bad things,” said Warthan. “That I can do good. And they are going to see that their mom is the superhero that they think she is.”

A superhero with a new superpower given to her with a simple piece of paper called a diploma.

Warthan will receive her HSED at the alternative high school graduation ceremony at Western Technical College on Thursday. She plans to pursue a degree in human services and gerontology at Western.

You can find more information on the Goal Oriented Adult Learning program on Western’s website,