Ida Willis always thought she had her high school diploma. Then, 9 years ago at the age of 55, Ida tried to sign up for college courses and was told that while she may have participated in her high school graduation and received her diploma, she was actually one class short of the credential. Ida was more than upset. After close to 30 years of nannying, working with children, and touting the benefits of an education, Ida was in disbelief.
“I was mad, but I decided that this is something I wanted. I was going on 56 years old, but I had to do it.”
The family she was nannying for at the time helped her find the GED prep program at Truman College. So she showed up, took the placement test, and started taking classes, determined to finish what she started. For the next nine years, Ida studied, prepared, and showed up at Truman College in fall, winter, spring, and summer – she only missed 4 days of class in all that time.
She overcame a lot along the way, including the death of her partner and champion, and being diagnosed with dyslexia, which finally gave a name to the learning challenges she had experienced throughout her education.
Ida persevered, and on April 4, 2018, she opened her final test results and saw that she had passed the math test – the final test she needed to pass to get her GED. She cried, knowing how much she had overcome to see those words.
She credits her teachers at Truman with helping her not only to learn the material, but for helping her find her confidence. One of her teachers would even meet with her every Saturday morning before class to help her understand the material because she said she was “so scared of math.” She also utilized the Wellness Center and the Disability Access Center, who provided Ida with a note taker. “They always believed in me and stood by me.”
Ida is taking that confidence and her GED and moving on to CCC’s Gateway Program, which helps Adult Education students to transition to credit certificate and degree programs, but not before she was the student speaker at her GED completion ceremony in June of 2018. Ida has her eye on a culinary degree and then a catering business.
“I found so many people who believed in me. Now that I believe in me, I know there’s nothing I can’t do.”