Former Jail Inmate Changes Life, Gets GED - - ABC13

Former Jail Inmate Changes Life, Gets GED


Danville, VA -- Saturday marked a new beginning for more than 150 people in Danville.

Hundreds packed into the George Washington High School auditorium today to watch their loved ones walk across the stage and get their GED certificate. 

One graduate in particular was able to share an inspiring story. Shannon Ramirez has had some rough patches in life which she said landed her in jail for a year. However, despite all of that, she graduated on Saturday, making a decision to leave her rough past behind and work toward success.

It was one of the biggest and energetic Danville GED graduation ceremonies. There were 153 people there celebrating a new chapter in life, full of opportunities.

"I'm hoping to get a job, and that's really all I want," said Lewey James, who earned a GED certificate. 
 Jackie Rochford, who worked closely with the students said almost everyone in those caps and gowns overcame several challenges before they could walk across the stage.

"Certainly for a lot of ours, they've been out of school for 15, 20, 25 years. Many of them have them have lost a job so they're on limited income so they're trying to find part time work,"said Rochford, Coordinator of Adult Career and Technical Education. 

She says the list goes on. For one graduate her challenge was getting her GED while behind bars.

"You have no choice but to do the time, so why not grow while you're there? Grow where you're planted at," said Shannon Ramirez. 

Ramirez said during her sentence, she knew she did not want to repeat the same mistakes that landed her in jail. So she planned for a better future.

"In order to change your life you have to make some changes , you have to take that first step, an now education is the most important thing, you cannot do anything without it," said Ramirez.

She was released from jail two weeks ago and now she said she's looking forward to what opportunities lie ahead.

"I'm applying for college and of course working a job and trying to live life as normal as possible, because that's all I really want it normalcy," added Ramirez. 

Also, at the ceremony eight students were inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society.

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