When I was a toddler, my mother would turn the television on to
occupy me while she went about her busy day. I was enthralled by
the television and would repeatedly interrupt her work by pointing
to the television and shouting, Mummy, look!" As I got older, television became the source of entertainment and relaxation for my family
and me. Little did I know at the time, that television would become
a source of my learning and the key to future possibilities.
Like many adults going for their GED, I too had specific reasons
for not getting my education at a younger age. My parents immigrated
to England from India and had to work long and hard to support their
family. They worked seven days a week leaving me in charge of making
sure things ran smoothly at home. As the oldest daughter in the
family, it became my responsibility to take care of my siblings.
I did the cooking, cleaning, and laundry for the whole family. In
my effort to be a good daughter, I gave very little attention to
my studies. I would cringe when my report card came home and showed
how badly I had done at school. I began to believe that I was not
a smart girl and worked even harder at pleasing people because that
at least was something I could do.
By the time I was married and moved to America, the realization
that I lacked the education and marketable skills to get a good
job began to dawn on me. I began working as a secretary but felt
such despair in my limited ability to make a good living. When my
children were born, I stayed at home and took care of them full
time. My lack of education still bothered me and I would often dream
of being like the other educated people I knew. It was as if they
belonged to some elite club that I could never be a part of. I admired
and valued intelligence greatly and put my energy into making sure
my children got a good education. It was clear to me that along
with a good education came certain rights and privileges, such as
a career of choice, a well paying job, freedom of expression, and
the feeling of being in control of oneís own life.
During the years that followed, if the subject of college happened
to come up in conversation, I would wish the ground would open up
and swallow me. I was so ashamed of my lack of education. What was
ironic was that people just assumed that I had attended college.
I loved to read and watch news programs; in fact anything that would
broaden my horizons appealed to me. On several occasions, I voiced
my desire to go to college. My husband was of the opinion that it
was just too late for me. It hurt me that he did not feel my dreams
were worth the investment. My children, on the other hand, were
very supportive and encouraged me to go for it. It was a frightening
time because I did not know where to begin and who to turn to for
advice. This is when I accidentally stumbled upon the GED on TV
program. I was filled with hope and excitement and immediately contacted
Thirteenís Literacy Center and sent off for my books. It seemed
fitting that the road to making my dreams a reality should come
from my beloved, lifelong friend, my television!
I began the GED on TV tutorial in September of 1999. I found it
to be one of the most challenging things I have ever been through,
but also one of the most rewarding. I would get up early to record
the tutorials and watch them over and over again until I understood
the material. It was wonderful to be able to work in the privacy
of my own home and at my own pace. I had been assigned a tutor at
Channel Thirteen, an amazing lady, Judy Fresco. She always seemed
to have more faith in my abilities than I had myself. There were
many times when I called her in utter frustration and screamed that
I was just too stupid to do this. She would very calmly say, "You
are not stupid, you were just never shown how to do this before."
On countless occasions, she put my fears to rest and gave me a soft
place to fall. She assured me that I was capable and that the test
could be taken again if need be; I had nothing to lose. In the summer
of 2000, I sat for and passed my GED exams. I learned more from
going through the GED program than math, English, and social studies.
I learned that I was capable of making my dreams come true and that
there were people out there that were willing to help me, like the
wonderful people at Thirteen/WNET New York.
Today, I am working part-time and attending college part-time. Despite
my fears about starting college this late in life, I am finding
it to be an exhilarating experience. It may take me a long time
to complete my college education, but at long last I am learning
to enjoy the journey. I have completed my first semester with a
4.0 grade point average and I am now taking three classes in the
fall 2001 semester. I will never be able to express to Thirteen/WNET
New York and my dear friend, Judy, what their presence in my life
has meant to me. You have allowed a girl, caged by her own insecurities,
to fly; I thank God for you every day.