Student Stories: From Bullied to Bravery, and a GED®
Posted by Jennifer Vecchiarelli on August 24, 2017 in categoryStudent Stories

Each year, one in six young adults drop out of high school. That’s a student every 26 seconds. 

There are a number of reasons why students drop out, including: 

  • lack of interest
  • delinquency
  • supporting family
  • continual failure
  • bullying
  • academic pressure
  • mental health
  • expulsion 
  • problems at home
  • learning disabilities

Many of the adult learner stories that we hear about or receive involve adults who dropped out of high school. 

For one individual, mental health and severe bullying ended his high school education early, and eventually led him to hit rock bottom. With help, he turned his life around and has set himself up for success.

Matthew’s Second Chance 

Matthew T. never imagined it would happen to him but it did. The 24-year-old African-American man walked across the stage at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) to receive his high school diploma.

“I pretty much told my mom that I was going to commit suicide if she made me go back to high school,” Matthew said.

Dropping out of high school and then spending the following years in seclusion were brought on by Matthew’s early years in high school. He was constantly bullied, he struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder, and he felt defeated by severe anxiety. 

“I was pretty much a prisoner in my own home, being afraid of going outside,” Matthew said. “An average day was just me sitting in my apartment—either on the computer or watching television. The only time I went out was to go to appointments.”

Relief finally arrived at Matthew’s doorstep when, in his early 20s, he met with a case manager and therapist who shed some light on his dark path. They encouraged him to pick up where he left off with his education and take the GED® test. With their help, Matthew enrolled in Next Door’s Adult Education Program. 

Matthew got off to a rocky start when he experienced a small amount of anxiety for the first few months, but he then made a major transformation. As he continued with the program, Matthew developed social confidence and felt motivated to complete his high school equivalency. This newfound academic ambition drove Matthew into a daily, hardworking pattern of taking GED practice tests in Mathematical Reasoning, Science, Social Studies, and Reasoning through Language Arts.

With the help of one-to-one tutoring, small classes, and the advisement by his instructors Peter and Barry, Matthew flourished academically and socially—he started embracing social interaction and stirring up conversation. Matthew referred to Peter and Barry as his mentors. “They were always reminding me that, this is what you need to do,” he said. “That kind of support—there is nothing like it.”

Matthew’s success at Next Door’s Adult Education Program not only spanned his academic growth, but included personal finance and job-readiness coaching.

In June 2017, Matthew graduated at MATC. He passed all four GED tests, scoring high honors on Social Studies and Reasoning Through Language Arts. 

After graduation, Matthew prepared for the MATC entrance exam and plans to begin classes in the fall. Eventually, he plans to transfer to the University of Wisconson-Milwaukee. “If all goes well, I’m thinking about getting a major in psychiatry, because I’m considering becoming a therapist myself, and maybe a minor in animation,” he said.

“Given the drive, passion, and dedication Matthew possesses, I have no doubt he will carve out an excellent career, and ultimately, a rewarding life for himself,” Peter said.  



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