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Introducing Neal Thibodeaux Jr.

Neal Thibodeaux Jr. is one of our most recent students to pass his HiSET exam. Read his inspiring story below from his own words:

Hi. My name is Neal Thibodeaux, Jr. My story is not much different from the many impoverished individuals I grew up with. I suffered a great loss twice- first my mother in 2000, then my maternal grandmother two years later. My grandmother was my rock and without the motherly love and guidance and no one to push me, I dropped out of high school in the 12th grade. I naturally entered the workforce. As I worked plenty of non-fulfilling jobs, I always knew deep down that I deserved better; that I would have to first obtain my GED so that I can start working in better [jobs].

Many years passed and getting my GED felt more like a far-fetched dream than reality and I got trapped in the web of work and responsibility. I couldn’t see it happening until finally, my work hours decreased, and I was not successful in finding another job to get more hours. At the same time, my younger sister was enrolled at SLCC for NDT (Non-Destructive Testing) after getting her GED. Watching her drive, motivation, and success was what inspired me. Soon after, my neighbor and close friend Mike started attending SLCC as well for NDT, and both he and my sister would come back to me with interesting stories about the program dynamics. It was then that NDT had my attention. They told me what I needed to do. The first step, as I already knew, was to get my GED.

A classmate and friend of my sister informed me about Goodwill and told me to go and ask for Ms. Janet, and that is what I did. I told Ms. Janet all about my plans and she replied, “That’s great!”, showing as much enthusiasm as I had. That is exactly what I needed. Since I had been out of school for a long time. Ms. Janet gave me some booklets to test myself on what I knew. I took them home, completed them, and brought them back the very next day. Ms. Janet checked my work and she was amazed at how much I retained despite my prolonged vacation from academics. I then began attending Ms. Janet’s class at Goodwill to prepare for the HiSET exam. Ms. Janet set up my account and assisted me until I was ready to go to take the test.

I was nervous. I first took reading, social studies, and math, all the while watching the clock the entire time. I ended up not finishing some of the test and being timed really played a huge role in my confidence, as anxiety had set in and clouded my focus. I failed all three tests. This made me very upset and I didn’t want to speak to anyone at the time. I just wanted to be alone. I wanted to give up and started to believe I was not smart enough to pass the HiSET exam. I told Ms. Janet about the whole ordeal including wanting to give up and her words were, “No. Never give up Neal. We’ll just work harder to get you ready.” I never had a teacher like Ms. Janet. She was very passionate about teaching and helping me succeed. She is amazing, and I thank her for being such an important part of my journey to getting my GED.

That push she gave me motivated me to study harder, and the next time I went, I was confident and ready. Each time, prior to going to take each part of the HiSET, I would look Ms. Janet in the eye and told her, “I am going to pass my exam. That I did, scoring a 9 in reading, a 10 in Social Studies, a 10 in Math, an 8 in language, 2 in Writing, and a 12 in Science. Words could not express my excitement for this huge achievement. I am one step closer to reaching my goals, and my GED is the foundation to build upon. I did it! I know my mom and grandma are smiling down on me! I survived losing them. Even with so much adversity, I overcame, I came, and I conquered. Now let me reintroduce myself. Hi. My name is Neal Thibodeaux, Jr. – future NDT Technician.

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