It was always something in the back of my mind. So the fact that I acted on it and now have my GED certificate is a huge weight off my shoulders. And new doors are already opening.
I’ve always enjoyed learning, but I never felt comfortable in the traditional classroom setting. I dropped out during my junior year of high school and tried an online school program, but didn’t finish. Around that same time, I moved from California to Florida and started working at the Walmart store in Lakeland. I enjoyed the people I was working with and felt like I was making a difference.
Last year, I came across some information about the new GEDWorks program, where Walmart was offering associates, like me, an opportunity to earn their high school equivalency. There was no out-of-pocket cost and a personal advisor was assigned to help guide me. There was also a rewards program for milestones achieved along the way.
I'd always intended to go back and earn my diploma or high school equivalency, but this new program made doing it an easy decision. Don't get me wrong, I had to put in the work. But a handful of months later, that hard work earned me a GED certificate.
At first, it provided a sense of pride because, at age 21, I had something on paper that proved I could do it. The skills I gained immediately opened new doors. First, I earned a promotion to bakery department manager, where I have added responsibility and I’m earning more money.
A year ago, I wasn’t even thinking about college. But I have that opportunity now. After several months in my new supervisor position, I can earn free college credits for my in-store experience. And I can use those credits to get a jump on my college degree, while continuing to work. Through partnerships with accredited colleges and universities, Walmart offers online and traditional higher education opportunities for associates. That’s something I’m already taking a serious look at.
I feel like I’ve found my place and that I’m going somewhere. I can see myself as a co-manager or store manager some day. I’ve always had the support. Now I have the confidence.