CA BOCES High School Equivalency Graduates Share Reflections

Olean, NY – August 5, 2021 – Between January 2020 and June 2021, 147 examinees from our area earned their high school equivalency diploma through testing at Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES.   These examinees are exemplary and completed this despite obstacles including COVID and personal barriers.  Many were students at CA BOCES community sites and worked with our well-trained instructors to achieve this goal.  Employment Preparation Education (EPE) funds classes for adults who are interested in obtaining their diploma.  There was a perfect score in reading of 800 during this time and many other students scored over 600–14 in reading, 10 in writing, 2 in math, 7 in science, and 5 in social studies.  In addition, 5 examinees scored over 3000 total points with the top score being 3231.

We asked two of our top-scoring students what to share their experience as examples of what can be achieved with hard work and perseverance:

“My name is Ping Munzert.  I am from China.  I came to America five years ago when I was 63 years old.  My English was very poor.  I had a difficult time and was very frustrated.  Eventually, I was able to get a job as a cashier at Walmart.  Although working there did improve my English, I realized that I needed more help if I wanted to be successful.  That is when I found BOCES.  With their help, I was able to get my first certification to be a CNA.  My dream is to become a nurse, even though I had attended high school and college in China, I felt it important that I get my high school equivalency here in America.  So that I could further improve my English and attend American College.

I began studying for my GED in February 2019 in Delevan Library.  My husband was very supportive.  He helped me study and drive me back and forth to my class.  My teacher Jody gave me a lot of guidance.  She was very kind and patient with me.  My knowledge of American history was lacking, to say the least.  My limited vocabulary was making it difficult to understand.  She took time to explain things to me and give me study material.  Finally, I passed my math, social study and science.  Also, I got very good score on math and social study.

I really had a hard time with reading and writing.  It took me over a year to prepare for my exam.  During that time, some instruction had to be done over the phone because of the COVID pandemic.  Bethany Ruane spent much time on the phone to help me.  I studied many hours and received help from the staff at BOCES.  I passed my final exam of English in July 2020 and received my equivalency diploma.  Without that assistance and encouragement, I might not have been able to pass the equivalency exam.  Many thanks to the staff at BOCES.

I believe in America anything is possible if you’re willing to work and you have a dream.  Just do it.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, what matters is your attitude and your amount effort.  Study hard, don’t give up.  You can achieve your dream.”

Samantha Barnetson adds this:

“After many years of thinking that having my high school equivalency diploma wouldn’t make a difference in my life, I finally decided to go back and try to earn it. After giving up the first time around, ten years later I finally achieved my goal. I never thought I could do it and ended up doing better than I imagined. I now have so many more opportunities and am currently studying veterinary assisting. I still haven’t chosen my new career, but it feels good to know I’ve opened so many more doors for myself. I’m glad I made the choice to get my diploma.”

These students would have presented these as speeches at our graduation ceremony had we been able to hold one.  Both students are strong examples of the success that can be achieved through high school equivalency classes and successful completion of the high school equivalency diploma.  In New York, the GED test was phased out in 2014 and the TASC is now the test of high school equivalency (HSE) along with options through pathways provided from New York State Education Department including regents credit, college credit, and National External Diploma Program.

Are you ready to get your diploma?  Are you 21 or older?  Call 716-376-8293 and get started today.