Five graduates were recognized at the adult high school equivalency graduation ceremony at Marshalltown Community College. The graduates received letters of congratulations presented by Patty Mendoza, Iowa Valley’s director of adult literacy programs, and a short commentary was read by instructor Kathy Siebring regarding each graduate’s future plans. Iowa Valley Chancellor Kristie Fisher also addressed the graduates.

Tanner Haus said his biggest challenge was juggling a full time job and attending class, but that didn’t stop him. During his journey, he was inspired by a lot of people, but namely his mom for always believing in him. He also wanted to thank Sam and Marney for their endless encouragement.

Erika Cruz Arguelles thanked her family for their encouragement, her classmates, and her instructor Ricarda for the individual attention. While keeping up with the reading was a bit challenging, she was successful because she stuck with it. She would encourage other students to stick with it and utilize the instructors for their expertise. She would also recommend that students shouldn’t get discouraged – just keep working towards your goals.

Earning his HSED during the pandemic was a challenge for Juan Lopez. Though he juggled a demanding job and family life and school, he was successful in earning his degree. He credited his wife and daughters as his inspiration to keep going. He thanked his instructor, Kathy Siebring, for her support and encouragement. Lopez wants to tell other students that earning a HSED degree will lift a weight off your shoulders and open doors.

Courtney Askildsen also balanced a lot in order to achieve her HSED degree — studying and taking care of her family was a challenge that she overcame. She credited her family and her best friend Shania for providing motivation. She eventually wants to become a pediatric nurse. Askildsen encouraged others to never give up on their dreams of growing and becoming something better.

Alejandra Cervantes divided time between a full time job and studying for her degree. Balancing both was her greatest challenge. She hopes to attend college in the near future.

Guest speaker Maryna Salas, the assistant to the director of the House of Compassion, addressed the graduates and their families and friends. She spoke about her upbringing in Mexico and her journey to the United States. She praised the Education and Training Center’s staff for helping her improve her English and to earn her own High School Equivalency diploma. Salas spoke of her experiences at Marshalltown Community College where she earned her associates degree and Buena Vista University where she earned a bachelors. She concluded by encouraging the graduates to continue with their education and to dream big.

Each graduate received a certificate symbolizing their dedication to lifelong learning. The graduates also each qualify for a New Opportunity Scholarship worth $400 per semester in college, provided they maintain a qualifying grade point average.

Each year, Iowa Valley Continuing Education (IVCE) presents a Director’s Scholarship award to the student who achieves the highest score on the high school equivalency tests. The June graduating class valedictorian was Cole Chinowth, who may use the Director’s Scholarship to cover full tuition and fees for one year at either Marshalltown or Ellsworth Community College.

Since January 2020, there have been 34 students who have completed their HSED.