SALISBURY, N.C. – When Amber DeVane started a new journey at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, it had been 12 years since she had been in a classroom – the entire length of time it normally takes to go from kindergarten through high school.
But DeVane didn’t have her high school diploma, and she was determined to earn it so she could apply to nursing school. She enrolled in the Career and College Readiness program at Rowan-Cabarrus to prepare for the tests to earn her North Carolina Equivalency (GED), which is nationally recognized as the equivalent to a traditional high school diploma.
“I dropped out of high school because I didn’t focus on my studies like I could have,” DeVane said. “I focused on friends and all the wrong things. It was the worst mistake of my life, and to be able to go back and correct my wrongs at this point is an amazing gift.”
Like most adults in their mid-30s, her biggest challenge in going back to school to earn her high school diploma was time. With a full-time job, a family, a home to maintain, and many other obligations, prioritizing classes and study sessions was a challenge.
“When I felt mentally and physically exhausted, I would picture myself walking across that stage and getting that diploma, and I knew no one would ever be able to take that away from me,” DeVane said. “Once I started, there was no stopping me. I work long hours at a strenuous, physically demanding job. When I got off at 4:30 in the afternoon, I was already tired, but I would pick up my stepdaughter and stuff my face as fast as I could and get ready for school. It was tough, but I kept pressing forward. I knew that getting my education would open doors for me.”
Rowan-Cabarrus prepares students to pass an approved High School Equivalency (GED) Assessment and be awarded a North Carolina Equivalency diploma. The program covers social studies, science, literature, mathematics and writing skills. Instruction is free to all students, but there is a fee to cover the cost of the test. The College offers an online option for students who cannot attend seated classes.
“I will be forever grateful to Rowan-Cabarrus and the amazing teachers who kept me motivated and inspired,” DeVane said. “They’re not simply there for a paycheck. They’re kind and genuine, and they actually care. If not for them, I might have dropped out again.”
DeVane paced herself instead of trying to sprint to the finish line, setting small goals and focusing on one subject at a time. With the mastering of each subject, she felt more motivated to move on to the next.
“That feeling of reaching the finish line is one I’ll never forget. If I can do it, so can you!” DeVane said. “Through the years, nursing just kept tugging at my heart. I’ve always had a passion for it, but I couldn’t pursue it. Now, I have applied to nursing school at Rowan-Cabarrus, and I’m not going to let anything stop me.”
DeVane has earned her diploma and plans to walk across the stage during the College’s postponed graduation ceremony, now planned for December.
She is looking forward to making a difference in patients’ lives as a nurse. “My passion is helping people – taking care of them, giving them hope, putting smiles on their faces,” she said.
“Amber DeVane’s personal motivation to succeed is an inspiration,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “Every day, our students fuel our passion for helping people improve their lives and reach their dreams through the power of learning.”
For more information about the High School Equivalency (GED) program, visit www.rccc.edu/adultlearning or call 704-216-3507 (North Campus) or 704-216-3785 (online).