NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 18, 2023) – YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee celebrated 88 women and men and their families at the annual Family Learning Center Graduation on Saturday, July 15 at Trevecca University’s Boone Convocation Center. The graduates are part of YWCA’s longtime Adult Education program, and they passed the challenging HiSET (formerly GED) exam to earn their High School Equivalency diplomas. This was the first in-person graduation since the COVID-19 pandemic, and 34 students from the Class of 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 participated in the ceremony.
The graduates range in age from 20 to 77-years old and represent four continents and 14 countries, including Mexico, Egypt, and Vietnam. Each overcame numerous challenges, including language barriers, to complete the program. More than fifty percent of the new graduates found the FLC through the Hispanic Family Foundation (HFF).
“This morning’s ceremony is not just a milestone; it’s a celebration of your achievements, your growth, and the limitless potential that lies ahead,” said Cade Fleming, Director of Adult Education & Career Services for the YWCA Family Learning Center. “I’m thrilled to finally be together again to celebrate your countless hours of hard work, dedication, and perseverance in the face of adversity. Each of you is an inspiration to your children, your families, and your community.”
Highlights of the 40-minute ceremony include cheering family members as their loved ones walked across the stage, inspiring remarks by Shan Foster, author, speaker, and youth advocate, and the presentation of the Betty Alexander Resiliency Award. “Ms. Betty” is the 77-year-old FLC graduate who began her adult education journey in 1979. Sebastiana Calo Reyes is this year’s award recipient.
The Nashville Adult Literacy Council reports that 20 percent of adults in Davidson County are functionally illiterate. Individuals who pass the HiSET can receive higher wages, better job opportunities, and access to higher education. Of the dozen Adult Education programs in the Nashville area, the YWCA’s FLC boasts nearly a quarter of all graduates.
The YWCA’s Family Learning Center is supported through generous funders, including Dollar General Literacy Foundation and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. The FLC is part of the GOAL Collective, a network of Adult Education providers in Middle Tennessee.
For 125 years, YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee has helped women, girls and families in Nashville and Middle Tennessee build safer, more self-sufficient lives. YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Programs include Domestic Violence Services, Girls Inc., AMEND Together, Dress for Success, the Family Learning Center, and Social Justice & Advocacy Programs. For more information, visit www.ywcanashville.com, follow us on twitter @YWCANashville and find us on Facebook facebook.com/YWCANashville.