As we are growing up, we all have daydreams of how our lives will be. We may become doctors or teachers who are happily married with two kids and a dog. The house on the beach or the house in the country is a vision where we picture ourselves belonging. Our daydreams never include dropping out of school, drug addiction, or tragedy. Unfortunately, the reality of those things is very common in today’s world.
Crystal Ralph was the typical teenager. Going to school, working part-time, and hanging with friends were a normal day for her. Concentrating on school was not her passion; she preferred working. Making money and being a “social butterfly” was much more interesting than sitting in a classroom. Being young, she worked out her own plan and decided to quit regular school and get her GED as it was known in 2003.
She enrolled at the Adult Learning Center when she was 18 with the intent of getting her diploma. It was not what she anticipated. She still had to come to class; she still had to study. It was just like school except she was not required to be there every day. She was not successful with the first attempt or her second try when she was 22. Crystal thought that getting her diploma would be easy; however, she learned that it would take more than just enrolling and showing up every now and again. This was going to take work and dedication.
As her life progressed, doors did not open quickly without her high school education. She continued to work. She was blessed to have her son when she was 25, and her life took on a traditional role of going to work and raising her son.
People say that your life can change in an instant. Crystal knows this firsthand. At age 30, she was involved in a car accident. As a result, she found herself in a very vulnerable situation, and it was easy for pain medication to become her crutch. An opioid addiction led to heroin, and the addiction led to a year of incarceration for theft. After her release from jail, Crystal attempted to “get clean”; however, rock bottom for Crystal happened when she overdosed in her car. All hope was lost when she was admitted to the psychiatric ward. She did not realize it at the time, but this was a new beginning for her. September 5, 2018, is the date recorded as her official “clean date” when she entered a rehabilitation program.
One year later, September 30, 2019, Crystal Ralph enrolled in the Adult Learning Center again. She was writing a new chapter for her life; getting her HiSET was the goal. She knew what she had to do, and she was determined to make it happen this time. With the support of her family and the staff and teachers of the Adult Learning Center, Crystal earned her diploma within two months of enrolling.
“Completing this course and having my HiSET has not only opened many doors, but it has given me more confidence and a sense of accomplishment,” she said. “I have battled a lot in life, including a criminal background and addiction. If I can make it through and get my HiSET, anyone can.”
Crystal wants to give back to her community. She hopes to become a certified peer recovery specialist and enroll in college to become a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. She is setting goals for herself and staying focused. Crystal leaves these words to everyone: “Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it” and “Do not become discouraged.”
The Adult Learning Center is here to help anyone who needs his or her high school equivalency diploma. Our classes are free. Give us a call today at 615-443-8731.