MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — South Texas College held its first General Educational Development graduation ceremony Wednesday.

Ricardo J. Solis, STC President, spoke at the event, noting that the group of graduates had overcome their fair share of obstacles to return and finish school.

“Each of you has your own individual reason to want to earn your GED, from furthering your education, to seeking a better opportunity and serving as a role model to others,” Solis said. “You have all experienced setbacks and obstacles, both personally and educationally, but you have persevered. And now you’re here today, celebrating the achievement with your families. The STC family, our board, the exceptional faculty, administration and staff wish you all the success in this new chapter of your life that you’re about to begin.”

According to a release, the GEDs were funded through the U.S. Department of Education Office of Migrant Education High School Equivalency Program; Texas Pioneer Foundation; Rio-South Texas Education and Community Development Foundation’s Postsecondary Career Pathways in Healthcare, Information Technology and Manufacturing and Region One’s AEL Grant.

To walk down the stage, graduates were required to complete 150 hours of test preparation in four academic areas, including mathematical reasoning, reasoning through language arts, social studies and science.

GED graduate Maricela Gonzalez, an Edinburg resident, was the keynote speaker for the graduation and said she had to stay focused to remain committed to the program. Gonzales powered through while working, often until 3 a.m. as a janitor, and then waking up for her classes at 7:30 a.m.

“I was nervous when I started the class because I was the oldest one there,” Gonzalez said. “I barely started to learn how to use a computer. But I did this because my daughter encouraged me to come back and get my GED. It’s 30 years later, but I did it.”

She said she always wanted to work in the health care field. Now that she’s earned her GED, she will begin studying at STC this fall to earn her associate degree and become a medical office specialist.

For more information on the program, visit https://www.southtexascollege.edu/cpit/cpwe.html.