High School Equivalency (HSE) classes prepare adult learners to achieve their personal and professional dreams. Students who complete the course and go on to earn their HSE/GED diploma can apply to colleges and universities, earn higher wages, and advance or switch their careers.
Graduates of RiseBoro’s HSE Class of 2022 overcame challenging circumstances, often juggling parenting and fulltime or parttime work while attending night classes and studying at home. With determination, encouragement from friends and family, and the support of their teachers, our students completed the course and earned their GED diplomas.
In the stories that follow, three Class of 2022 graduates reflect on the challenges they overcame to earn their diplomas and the dreams that are now more possible than ever.
As a young girl growing up in Yemen, Alkhansaa Aidaylam was an excellent student who dreamed of becoming a doctor. But when she graduated from high school in 2007, her country’s customs and her family’s beliefs made that impossible.
“My family at the time did not believe that women like me should pursue a college degree,” Alkhansa said. “I tried to convince them but was not successful.”
She later married and moved to New York City with her husband. In 2020, she enrolled in English as a second language (ESL) classes to improve her skills. When she discovered that the school she was attending also offered healthcare career certification classes, Alkhansaa thought she had finally found a path to working in healthcare and was eager to enroll.
“I was hopeful that things were working out for me,” she said. “I was getting closer to my dream of becoming a doctor.”
There was just one problem—in order to apply, she had to prove that she had graduated from high school. Alkhansaa did not have a copy of her diploma, and the conditions in Yemen at the time made it impossible for her to obtain one. Before she could move forward with her career, she had to start over and obtain her GED. When she enrolled in RiseBoro’s HSE program to prepare, Alkhansaa was surprised to find out she was pregnant. The class started the same month that she gave birth. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was able to take classes online while remaining at home with her newborn daughter.
“I felt that a lot of people didn’t believe that I could pass the GED test, but I was determined to succeed,” she said. “I believe in myself, and I know that if I set my mind to something, I can achieve it. I did not care about anyone’s opinion. I could see my dream from afar.”
After graduating from RiseBoro’s HSE class, Alkhansa enrolled in the Bureau of Manhattan Community College. She is finally on a path toward achieving her dream.
“My first and strongest support is myself,” Alkhansaa said. “If you have a goal, never give up. You can achieve anything you set your mind to.”
Luis Sucuzhanay left Ecuador for New York City in 2000 hoping to build a better life for his family. Though he had never graduated from high school, Luis was able to find work as a butcher—a job he has held for twenty years.
One day, Luis decided it was time to continue his studies. He picked up the phone, dialed 311, and asked for information on ESL and HSE classes. The operator connected him to RiseBoro.
“In the beginning, I found it difficult and wanted to stop going to the classes, but I didn’t give up,” Luis said. “Now I can say with a lot of pride that I achieved learning English at an advanced level, and I obtained my GED diploma.”
Luis is now studying accounting at the Bureau of Manhattan Community College.
“It hasn’t been easy getting accustomed to a new language and culture,” he said. “But with time and a lot of patience, I have been able to achieve my goals.”
Georgina Estrella came to RiseBoro’s HSE class with two goals: to learn English well enough to pass the U.S. Citizenship Exam and to earn her GED.
“I won’t lie, the road was not easy,” Georgina said. “But with a lot of sacrifices and a lot of faith, I was able to achieve each one of my goals.”
She credited her teachers for their support and her friends and family for their encouragement throughout—especially her daughter, who helped her overcome the language barrier and refused to let her give up on her dreams.
“She always told me, ‘Mami, never stop. Keep moving forward,’” Georgina said. “That is my one piece of advice to others: never stop and keep moving forward. Do not yield because anything can be done when there is strength and love.”
Open to adults ages 17 and older, RiseBoro’s HSE classes are held annually from September to May at our Youth Center in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Classes are taught in Spanish and English and are held in the daytime for adults ages 17-20 and in the evenings for adults ages 21 and older. For more information, call 718.381.9653 or click here to register online.