Alumni Spotlight: Simon & Ryne Cadena
Father and son Simon and Ryne Cadena of Oshkosh completed the GED-to-Work program together in Fall 2019, encouraged by Rebecca, Simon’s wife and Ryne’s mom.
Funded by a Wisconsin Fast Forward grant, the GED-to-Work program was a partnership between Pierce Manufacturing and Fox Valley Technical College and concluded in Fall 2020. Students earned their GED® while working part-time at Pierce, with the promise of a full-time job upon completion.
We talked with Simon and Ryne about the experience, their GED teacher Kelly Galarneau and why sometimes all you need is to have someone believe in you.
What did you like about the program?
Simon: I doubted myself, but the whole process was so easy. When you come in for your GED, you don’t really know what to expect. You wonder, “Can I do this?” And with Kelly, he says, “Yes, you can. Just put your mind to it.” My wife didn’t doubt me, my son didn’t doubt me, Kelly didn’t doubt me.
Ryne: It was great having Pierce back us too, helping us accomplish our goal.
What was it like going to school together?
R: Definitely weird (laughs). I was fresh out of high school, so it was a little strange going from being in class with people the same age to having your father sitting next to you. But it was also nice having a familiar face.
S: I think I was the oldest in the group, and hadn’t been in school for 35 years. So it was awkward, but also motivating.
How did Fox Valley Tech help you?
S: I’ve tried to get my GED before but was told I wasn’t ready. When I came to FVTC, it was different. Kelly pushed me; he’s just a phenomenal teacher. I hope there are more teachers out there like him. And now my wife got her reward by us graduating, and I got a good job.
R: In high school, when I found out there was no way I was going to graduate, I just gave up. If it wasn’t for my mom’s encouragement, I wouldn’t have done this. When I came to Fox Valley Tech, Kelly looked at my scores, figured out what I needed to work on and helped me focus on that. He wanted us to succeed as much as we wanted it for ourselves.
Finish High School!
If you’ve been thinking about finishing high school, you can earn your GED® credential or HSED with Fox Valley Tech. Classes are personal and flexible: start anytime and complete when you've met your goals.
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