Urban Peak has the only GED program in the Denver area that offers free tutoring and testing with a flexible schedule which is ideal for youth experiencing homelessness. Attendance is often a barrier for our youth, so we meet our students where they are at and help them work towards their educational goals at their own pace. For some students, this means coming in consistently for a few weeks until they finish the GED, and for others it means coming in twice a month to learn how to read.
We just had our annual graduation ceremony to commemorate the youth who have earned their GED in the last year. This is my favorite event of the year because I get to spend an evening celebrating the hard work and successes of my clients. The GED test is more difficult than a lot of people think (take a stab at the math portion if you don’t believe me!). The youth who get their GED through Urban Peak have not only jumped over the obstacle of completing a challenging test, they all have overcome unique and significant challenges in their lives. Every graduate has an inspiring story, and I’d like to highlight a couple of the youth we worked with this year.
The first client was our student speaker, Jocelyn. Her mother struggles with mental health and addiction and her father wasn’t always around, so she grew up in various shelters with her mom, at relative’s houses, and had a stint in foster care. As a teenager, she struggled with anger management and began using drugs. She lived at Rox’s Place through Urban Peak’s Rocky Mountain Youth Housing Project for a time before she got in trouble with the law and ended up in a couple of different group homes. When Jocelyn got pregnant with her daughter, she decided she needed to turn her life around. She stopped using drugs and changed her outlook on life. Today Jocelyn is one of the kindest, funniest, and most thoughtful people I’ve ever met. She has two children, works fulltime at King Soopers and now that she has her GED, she is going back to school to become a CNA so she can work as a burn technician at Colorado’s University Hospital.
Roy was sleeping on the streets while he was working on his GED. Even if he camped miles from downtown, he found a way to get to Urban Peak to study. He worked diligently and quickly, and shortly after earning his GED he started taking online classes to work towards his Associates Degree. I was speaking to Roy recently about college, and he told me about a barrier he’s found while taking online classes. He has to sign into his school account 3 times a week, even if he finishes his assignments in one sitting, to stay active in his class. This means Roy has to find his way to the library or Urban Peak – planning around his work schedule because he is employed – 3 times a week because he doesn’t have access to a computer.
Jocelyn and Roy are two of the many resilient and hardworking individuals I’ve tutored for the GED.
Education Team Lead, Urban Peak Denver