On This Navajo Reservation, A New Grassroots Program Helps Residents Earn GEDs
There are endless reasons why a person might not get the chance to finish their high school education, from illness to family responsibilities and beyond. From a psychological perspective, one of those reasons can be the feeling that no one believes in you. If there's no one in your life pushing you to succeed in school, academics often fall by the wayside. But lacking a high school diploma these days causes problems beyond the classroom.
"You either have to have a high school diploma or a GED... you can't get a job without that," says Jennifer Charley, a woman enrolled in a new program on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico that helps residents earn their GED—and sets them up for more success in life.
The program that Jennifer is enrolled in is an entirely grassroots effort. Classes are led by one man, Benson Ndolo, and are open to anyone who had to drop out of school, whatever their reason for doing so. On the Navajo reservation, that reason is often connected to poverty, which is widespread. Jennifer and another classmate named Jeffrey Yazzie, are seeking their GEDs because they each had children at a young age, and had no choice but to leave high school to raise their new families. Benson, the program leader, is a uniquely generous person, helping to cover the fees associated with the GED for his students who are unable to pay.
"It feels good, honestly," says Jeffrey, "to know that somebody's there, and going to help you."
Nothing beats seeing people help other people, like Benson, and people helping themselves, like Jennifer and Jeffrey!