Shouts and cheers rang out during Ulster BOCES High School Equivalency (HSE) graduation on Monday, February 24. In all, 54 Ulster BOCES HSE Adult Education students from across the Hudson Valley area took and passed their Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC™) exam. Twenty-two of the graduates attended the ceremony and were recognized for their accomplishments by their friends, families, instructors, and Ulster BOCES representatives.
The Ulster BOCES HSE students completed educational requirements that included passing the two-day, nine-hour TASC™ exam.
Also honored at the event were four students who completed the Ulster BOCES English as a Second Language (ESL) program. In addition, nine of the honorees successfully completed their United States Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization test, thanks to the citizenship education component that is included in the ESL program.
Ismeta Krcic of Ellenville became emotional when discussing earning her diploma. Although it took her a couple of tries to complete the program because of work and life challenges, Krcic says she is grateful to the Ulster BOCES Adult Literacy staff, including her teacher, Sue Luongo. “She made me believe I could do anything I put my mind to.” Krcic is planning on possibly going to college to pursue a career in healthcare. “I have always wanted to go into the medical field to care for the elderly or children.”
The keynote speaker at this moving event was Coordinator of Supportive Learning Environments and Positive Youth Development at Ulster BOCES Joakim Lartey, who recently received his naturalization status. Lartey, who was born in Ghana, had inspirational words and advice for the honorees. “This is a bright moment,” he said. “You graduated in the year 2020. When I go to the doctor or to the Department of Motor Vehicle they say my vision is 20/20 and that is good, clear vision. This is the year 2020, the year of clear vision,” he said advising, “If you stay clear in your heart you will find many people who will make this journey easier.”
For El Salvador native Sendy O’Brien, the event was yet another step forward in her personal and professional journey. O’Brien, who was recognized for officially becoming a U.S. citizen, has completed Ulster BOCES ESL, Nurse Assistant, and Medical Assistant programs, and she credits the ESL program with helping her to improve her language skills and gain her citizenship status. Her education at the Adult Education Center began when she lost her job at a factory in 2011. She knew to advance professionally she had to expand her language skills, so she enrolled in the ESL course and has been building her career path ever since.
Today, the Kingston resident is a community health worker for Maternal-Infant Services Network of Orange and Ulster Counties. “I feel like I have succeeded a lot in my career and I have to credit BOCES because it helped open doors for me,” O’Brien said, explaining, “When people are in the process of getting their citizenship, BOCES is great to help develop language skills.”
Director of Adult Education Mary Jalloh said, “We couldn’t be more proud of each and every person who was recognized tonight. It takes courage and determination to come back to school, and then balance these educational commitments, while meeting family and work obligations.”
The graduates are from the following communities: Kingston, Ellenville, New Paltz, Kerhonkson, Saugerties, Rosendale, Lake Katrine, Hurley, Catskill, Wurtsboro, Albany, Poughkeepsie, Connelly, and Glenford.