Jinju Mak took classes at Columbia Basin College to prepare for her General Educational Development, or GED, tests.
She hoped to get help with her reading and writing, and to brush up on her math, she said.
Mak, 44, of Kennewick, received her GED certificate during a ceremony Friday in the gym at the Pasco college.
And she earned a loud round of applause when it was announced that she’d posted a perfect math score.
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Earning that score felt good, Mak said, sitting in her cap and gown before the ceremony, with her son, Ethan, 7, at her side.
The evening event celebrated more than 400 students who earned their GEDs, along with about a dozen who earned high school diplomas through CBC’s high school completion program.
Not all the students could attend, but about 100 or so showed up in caps and gowns, marching to their seats as loved ones in the audience cheered, waved, snapped photos and shot video to capture the moment.
Guadalupe Cortez, who earned her GED after years of struggle and is working toward a bachelor’s degree, spoke during the ceremony.
It took perseverance to prepare for and pass the GED tests and open the door to a brighter future, she said.
“Now remember, nobody said it was going to be easy after you open one door,” she said. But keep pushing, and you’ll find the right one.
The Soroptimist International Three Rivers Club was recognized with the Community Educator of the Year award for helping with exam costs for students who couldn’t pay. And Anita Smith, who has taught basic skills at CBC since 1994 and is retiring, was awarded Educator of the Year.
Mak told the Herald that she’s grateful to Smith for her help and guidance.
In China, Mak worked as an architect. Then she moved to the U.S., had her son and stayed home. Now he’s growing up, and she’s looking to get back into the work world, she said.
Earning her GED, with help from CBC -- “it gave me confidence,” she said.
-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald