May is always filled with graduations, parties and celebrations of accomplishments. Last Sunday was no exception as 15 students in the Adult Education Program offered by the Dodge City Education Center received their high school diplomas.
"Education was never something I thought about when I was younger," Milko Trenzado, a graduate and guest speaker, said during the ceremony. "But, as I got older I felt like there was always a black cloud hanging over my head. That cloud was not having my diploma."
Trenzado had even more to celebrate last weekend, as his daughter earned her own high school diploma the day before he did.
"It was really special to be able to celebrate together with her," he said. "She was the one who inspired me to go back to school in the first place, so to finish together was great."
The Adult High School Diploma Program is funded by Southwest Plains Regional Service Center and USD 443. Anyone who would like to earn their high school diploma is welcome to participate.
"We sit down with each student before they begin the program and review their transcripts from their previous school," Nacho Sumaya, the coordinator for the Education Center said. "We look at when they would have graduated, then look at the requirements needed to graduate from Dodge City High School that same year, and come up with the requirements that individual needs to graduate."
The program includes required education classes as well as electives, and may be completed in person or online.
"We do ask that anyone taking online classes comes in at least once a week so that we can make sure they're keeping up with the work," Sumaya said.
Sumaya and other Education Center employees work with the students on an individual level and offer them help encouragement and the knowledge that they can earn their diploma.
"I think that's the most important part of what we do," Sumaya said. "Help them to see and believe that they can do it."
The Education Center offers open enrollment, and classes all year long, including the summer months.
When the program first began 12 years ago, there were just two graduates. This year, 15 students graduated, from all walks of life and all with different goals now that they've received their diploma.
One graduate, Marcos Angel Morales Zetino, had to overcome several challenges before receiving his diploma. He moved to Dodge City from Guatemala in 2012, and didn't speak any English.
"I had to learn the language before I could take classes," Zetino said. "That was probably the hardest part for me. But now, I can say I speak three languages, English, Spanish and my parents native language."
Zetino now hopes to further his education even more by attending Dodge City Community College.
Page 2 of 2 - Citlali Santana Hernandez decided to get her diploma because she knew it would open the door for many more opportunities in the future.
"You just have so many more opportunities available now," she said.
Hernandez also hopes to continue her education by getting a college degree.
The Dodge City Education Center is located at 300 W. Comanche. For more information about the Adult High School Education program, or any of their other services, call (620) 225-5239.