Adult Ed
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.

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