Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Luis Antonio Rodriguez is no stranger to hardship. He was a senior at Morton High School in 2007 when his whole life changed forever – his family reached a point of financial instability, because his single mother was no longer able to work enough hours to make ends meet. Mortgage payments and bills kept piling up, and Luis realized he had to take matters into his own hands.

Luis dropped out of school and got a full-time job to help his mother. After some time, Luis began to question that decision, not because he regretted helping, but because he had not placed enough importance on his education. He tried two different GED programs in the years that followed, one in Cicero and another at Farragut High School, but he wasn’t able to finish either.

In 2016, he enrolled in the GED program at Daley College. The classes were free, close to home, and fit his work schedule. Since the school had small class sizes, Luis found staff and faculty who were able to give him individualized attention. Having to wake up at up at 4:30 a.m. to go to work and fit in studying never got easier for him, but he kept his end goal in mind: to get his GED. After a full day of work plus overtime, he headed over to Daley College three times a week for his evening GED classes. In addition, he took a manufacturing course on Saturdays to begin his path toward eventually obtaining a college degree.

Luis earned his GED in June 2018. For him, this is a huge milestone because, as he puts it, this experience was comparable to finally closing a chapter in his life that had been left open for so long. He is now part of the Gateway Program, and is enrolled in credit classes for the upcoming fall semester on his way to receiving his Associate Degree in Applied Science. This next step will put him that much closer to reaching his goal of opening his own record pressing business.

As the student speaker for Daley College at the GED completion ceremony, Luis shared some of the knowledge he gained while at Daley: he realized that it is never too late to get an education, which motivated him to be persistent.

“Set a goal, make a plan and stick to it,” was the mindset that helped him look past obstacles when times were tough. We look forward to Luis’s future success at Daley College and seeing him walk across the stage again, this time with an associate degree in his hand.

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