Triton awards GEDs to 164 students
Leticia Felix of Franklin Park received her GED at a ceremony held at Triton College, Thursday evening. Leticia Felix of Franklin Park walks to her seat. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:34AM
Growing up in Mexico, Leticia Felix was taken out of school to help out on the family farm.
She was 11 years old and completed what is the equivalent of a sixth-grade education in the United States. She never returned to school, but she was always able to find a job.
But after losing her most recent job in a factory three years ago, Felix, who is now 34 years old and living in Franklin Park, decided her priority should be completing her education.
She took a major step last week, receiving her General Education Degree (GED) at Triton College in River Grove. She was one of 164 students who recently passed the test.
The number of GED recipients is one of the highest in Triton’s history and doubles from last year’s 87 students who received their GED, school officials said. Only about 50 people participated in the June 21 ceremony in the school’s Student Center, but Felix was one of them.
Shanika Meeks, 30, of Bellwood, who also received her GED certificate, said there were so many people in attendance more chairs had to be brought in. She was chosen to speak to her fellow recipients.
Meeks dropped out of high school in her freshman year because of an unstable home life. While she was able to find employment, she always knew she had to go back to school.
“The whole point of my speech was to encourage people to keep going,” she said. “I had to stop myself from crying.”
She plans to continue her education at Triton and eventually get a degree in accounting. She received a scholarship from the school and was also inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society.
“It was the best night of my life,” she said. “It was wonderful.”
Felix said she feels proud of her accomplishment because when she was working there was no time to think about school, especially raising three children.
“I’d work and come home and take care of the children and it was impossible to go to school,” Felix said.
It took about a year for her to complete the required courses before taking the test and it wasn’t the first time she took it. “The second time I went I passed,” Felix said.
She said math and social studies were the most difficult for her, but she enjoyed the challenge.
Now that she has her GED, she hasn’t stopped taking classes at Triton and would like to one day start her own business.
“I’m studying English and took some computer classes for early childhood education,” she said. “In the future I want to run a home day care. Right now I’m studying English and want to continue English class and next year look for a job.”
She hopes that her GED and continuing her education at Triton will provide her with better opportunities in the future.
“I don’t want to go back to the factory again,” she said. “They don’t pay too much and sometime they don’t give benefits so you have to look for something else.”
She said to change this she has to continue to further her education and getting her GED was the first step.
“I want a better life for my kids, so I have to continue,” she said. “Right now the economy is too bad.”