Test Takers from Maine, New Hampshire and Tennessee



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RICKY: I ended up dropping out because it wasn't my cup of tea.

TIM: And it ended up just coming to a point where my junior year I would've had to repeat, and I just didn't go back.

JASON CARTER, ETS: Currently there's 40 million adults in the United States who have not completed high school.

TERRI: I mean you can't work anywhere now without a high school diploma. So I couldn't even get a job at a fast food restaurant without it.

JASON CARTER: So a high school equivalency is important to help folks become more educated, and show that they have the skills necessary as the work force continues to move forward into the 21st century.

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RICKY: Well I'm Ricky Dunton. We're here in Sanford, Maine.

Basically what I do is I own a sound company.

I couldn't handle the average high school life.

I dropped out and basically was kind of just sitting in my room doing nothing.

I had big dreams and big ideas, but I didn't have the skill set to be able to go ahead with it.

Basically my mom started nagging me, and made me go get into the adult ed and start doing something, and it really got me out of the house and kind of opened me up to a whole new world of people that I never would have met before.

I ended up taking the HiSET® test because I really wanted to do something with myself.

Especially just having that piece of paper with your name on it and getting to go up, just shake their hands and, you know, know that you actually made it and did it.

CHRISTINA: I'm Christina Ireland. I live in Tamworth, New Hampshire.

I was a high school dropout and a teen runaway.

I was able to get jobs, stupid jobs like bagging groceries and flipping burgers, you know, something that just made a little cash. But I wanted to do more.

I work for the Conway Area Humane Society as an animal behaviorist, which I've been studying my whole life. And I couldn't get further until I got a high school education.

So I was driving home one day and I looked over and there was a brand new building. It was the high school education program. So I stopped in and the next day I started school.

My teacher Elisabeth had told me about the HiSET test.

I wanted to graduate before my oldest child graduated, 'cause I wanted to show her everybody can do it. So I made her a deal: I graduate, you graduate.

ESPERANZA: I am Esperanza Martinez and we are at the TCAT.

My diploma from Mexico is not valid in this country. I don't know why. And I finished my education there, but I have to take my HiSET test right here.

I would like to teach and I want to study more.

I want to get a better life right here.

It's nice to get that diploma. I feel success.

TIM: My name is Tim O'Donoghue. I had to come here to the Noble High School adult learning center to take the HiSET test.

I got it because I was looking for a job, and I really wanted that job, it's a good job. And so when I tried to come back, they wouldn't let me because I didn't have a high school diploma or the HiSET test.

I had kids but when my kids were at school I would just walk here, which would be like a two-and-a-half hour walk from where I was living.

It was actually one day I came here, and it started pouring out. And I had to walk here. I got here, I was soaked, my shoes were soaked and everything, but I still came here and did the test.

I feel great. Now I get to work the place I enjoy working, it's close to home. And it opens up a lot of opportunities in the future.

TERRI: I'm Terri Waatti. We're at Tennessee Prison for Women. I'm 40 years old.

And I was a high school dropout due to pregnancy. And I just went from dropping out of high school to drugs and landed here.

I have children and I wanted them to see that just because I was a high school dropout and because I ended up incarcerated doesn't mean I couldn't make something of myself. It's very important especially if I want to continue a drug-free life in the free world, I have to have my high school diploma in order to get a job anywhere.

I had to start from the very beginning, and it was like I just didn't know anything.

And I didn't believe in myself, but they believed in me. So that made it a little bit better because they believed in me.

And I thought, okay so I can do this, I just need to concentrate a little bit more and study a little bit harder. So that's what I did, and here I am!

[music starts]

JASON CARTER: We want the HiSET test to be a starting point, not an ending point.

Our goal for the test takers is to help them reach their goals.

RICKY: In the end, it really is worth it. 'Cause if you don't do it, then you're just gonna be constantly wondering about what if, you know, never knowing the doors that could've been opened.

ESPERANZA Never give up. Never quit.

INTERVIEWER: So what are you thinking about now?

TERRI: Uh, how good it feels to be able to tell someone that I actually made something of myself even though I'm in prison.

CHRISTINA: I just want to get better educated. The more education you get, the more help you can give.

TIM: Any good-paying job is requiring that education, that proof of education that you can get from taking the HiSET test. So it's definitely worth it.

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