When I signed up to earn my high school equivalency, I didn’t know what to expect. It had been years since I’d been in a classroom setting.

I was raised in Chicago until kindergarten, when I went to live with my grandparents in Mexico. There, I continued my education all the way until college prep. When I decided it was time to come live in Chicago again, English was a foreign language to me.

I didn’t continue my formal education in the U.S., but in the years that followed, I started to think about going back to school. I set the goal that I’d go back when I knew enough English to take classes in the language.

So, in 2020, I started a quest towards that dream. I finished an online course, and a young teacher told me: “Do not stop studying. Keep learning and keep looking. Don’t just stay with this information.”

By then, we were in the middle of the pandemic. Everyone was at home and following strict safety guidelines. That’s when it hit me. This could be my chance to finally get my GED—and from home. I looked up Daley College because it was the closest to me and saw they were offering online prep classes.

I told my family, “I’m finally getting my GED.”

I didn’t want to lose time with my daughter, my niece, and my grandbaby, but the schedules at Daley worked for me. I was able to study after school hours or before classes, making it easy for me to keep up with all my girls’ schedules.

Not everything was a walk in the park. It had been a long time since I attended school, and I was nervous to go back. My math skills were almost gone, but my instructor, Mr. Jay Hoppie, was patient with me and my classmates, taking time with each of us to help us understand a subject or area that we were struggling in.

Even when I told him, “I think this is too much for me,” he said, “just hang in there a little longer!”

I’m glad I did.

Now that I’ve earned my GED, I’m looking forward to continuing my education, with a new goal of earning my bachelor’s degree and one day becoming a counselor just like my son.

We usually say we want our kids to follow our footsteps, but for me, I want to follow theirs. City Colleges helped me get one step closer.

—Gloria Villanueva, Daley College High School Equivalency Completer, Class of 2022


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