SYLVA– Dressed in a royal blue cap and gown, with a glowing Christmas tree behind her and a smile from ear to ear, Emma Hull received one of her greatest gifts of the year: new opportunity.
A Cherokee native who is part of the Mother Town Healing Program offered through the Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO), Hull walked across the stage on Thursday, Dec. 5, at Southwestern Community College to finally have the moment she has been waiting on for so many years. Along with several of her peers, she received her High School Equivalency Diploma.
With her parents, four children and fiance cheering her on from the crowd, Hull became one of the many graduates who have found success since SCC’s College and Career Readiness (CCR) program began offering High School Equivalency Boot Camps this past summer.
Each semester, CCR hosts classes that allow participants to earn their high school equivalency diploma in an accelerated program. Students attend class Monday through Friday for five weeks. Each week, the students prepare for and take one subject test. Upon passing all five tests, they receive their high school equivalency credential and are invited to attend a graduation ceremony.
“It’s not as hard as I thought it would be, but you definitely have to stay committed, and you can’t let yourself get overwhelmed,” said Hull. “I took it day by day, test by test.”
Hull credits her instructor, Robin Weber, with helping her stay on track and always being prepared for the next step.
“If you actually do what Ms. Weber says, you will make it through this program. There’s no doubt about it,” said Hull. “Always do your homework. You’ve got to put in time inside and outside of the classroom. Several times I’ve stayed up till 1 a.m. on the weekend doing homework. You can do this, but you have to put in the time.”
Hull says getting her high school equivalency through the CCR program has opened many doors for her, especially with TERO.
“Now that I’ve got my high school credentials, I can become an intern in the Mother Town Healing Program, and from there I can apply for full-time tribal jobs. The possibilities have really opened for me,” said Hull.
One such possibility is here at SCC.
“My family and fiance have pushed me to go further, and I’ve decided I want to do my associate’s degree here at SCC. I really want to start in Spring and keep the momentum going,” said Hull. “I’m not sure exactly what I want to do, but I want to be here. The instructors are wonderful, and I finally feel like I can see a future for myself.”
Hull isn’t alone in feeling inspired and motivated by the boot camp program.
Richard George, also a Cherokee native, has already enrolled at SCC to start the Paralegal Technology program in January.
“Just go. This was a great experience. The program wasn’t easy, but it was easier than I had imagined. I had built it up to be so much harder in my mind,” said George. “I would recommend the program to anyone, and I’ve already recommended it to several people.”
As for Weber, she’s proud of all her students no matter what their next step may be.
“They all have such bright futures ahead of them, and I know that whatever they may do, they will succeed,” said Weber. “These students are truly an inspiration to me.”
The CCR program offers high school equivalency in both Macon and Jackson Counties. The next boot camp will be held Feb. 18 – March 27 at the Macon Annex. Another boot camp will be offered from April 6 – May 15 on SCC’s Jackson Campus. Classes will run from 10:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday. For those who cannot attend during the day, evening classes will be offered for each county.
For more information on SCC’s High School Equivalency program, contact Kay Wolf at email@example.com or (828) 339-4262.
– Southwestern Community College release