Umara Zetino’s advice to anyone who has been out of the classroom for a while is pretty straightforward: “It doesn’t matter what age you are, as long as you have the will and the drive. If you want to earn your degree, you can do it.”

And she should know. After leaving high school at the end of her sophomore year, she had initially planned to earn her GED right away, but that didn’t end up happening. Instead, she started working as a nursing assistant at the age of 17, got married at 18, and raised her two sons. Life was busy. When her younger son was 4, she got her medical assisting license, but still didn’t have her GED. She tried to prepare to earn her GED again, but with working and raising her children, it wasn’t the right time.

Then, with her sons in high school, she thought if they could do it, so could she. In August 2019, Umara signed up for high school equivalency prep classes at Wright College, and by January she had earned her GED. Her oldest son earned his own high school diploma just one semester later in June.

“I was more motivated this time,” she said simply.

What she found at Wright was the extra support she needed, including teachers who pushed her and supported her as she worked to reach her goals.

“The faculty members want you to go somewhere and do something with your education. They supported us no matter what,” she said.

She also participated in the Healthcare Bridge program, is taking credit classes at Wright, and plans to apply to the nursing program at Malcolm X College before she goes on to earn her bachelor’s in nursing.

Is the time right for you to earn your GED and pursue your goals? Learn more about free adult education classes at City Colleges of Chicago here.

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