HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — It was a special day in Holyoke for one group of young women. The Care Center honored 20 young women who had overcome the odds to receive their GED, and for those women it was a day to reflect on just how far they’ve come.
Tamara Smith dropped out of school before she got pregnant with her daughter. Once she found out she was expecting, she found new motivation to pursue her education.
“My daughters future and mine, I didn’t want to be somebody that didn’t do nothing. You know I wanted my daughter to look up to me,” Smith explained.
It took her several years but finally she heard the words that would change the course of her life.
“She’s like Tamara, and I’m like what? and she said you passed. And I was like oh my gosh no way I was crying. I was so emotional,” recalled Tamara.
Tamara credits her success to her own mother constantly pushing her, and to the staff at The Care Center in Holyoke.
“We’re here to help them pass the GED and go on to college. We’ve got a really strong college focus and in fact 75 percent of our graduates do go on to college,” said Anne Teschner, the Executive Director of The Care Center.
And that’s exactly where Tamara is headed, to major in criminal justice. Afterwards she hopes to be a police officer. A job she’s proven she has the courage for.
“These are students who pretty much everyone has expected to fail,” said Teschner. “They work very hard, and many of them take college courses while they are working on their GED with us. There’s a strength and stamina that’s just amazing to see.”
All of today’s graduates have overcome obstacles to be here today. But whether it took them 6 months or 4 years to receive their GED one thing is for sure. Today is just the beginning.
The Care Center in Holyoke is an alternative education program for pregnant and parenting teen moms, most of whom are also on welfare assistance. They also offer college prep, on-site day care, counseling and even door-to-door transportation support these women as they pursue a higher education.