Fatherhood Inspires Journey to GED Success
My name is Arthur Riley. After years of working on my GED, my persistence resulted in a GED diploma. I am 31 years old, married, and have a 10 year-old son. My mother raised me with lots of love and support. I never knew my father.
My journey to earn a GED wasn’t easy. I’ve had failure, hardship, and discouragement. I’ve also had success, reward, and encouragement. This journey began as a high school athlete but ended due to a knee injury.
All my life I loved football. Football is a passion. Collegiate was my future. It came to an end when I was hit from my blind side going after a running play. This injury resulted in two knee operations and extensive therapy. I felt lost because next to my family, football was my love.
That same year, my grandmother died. This hurt more than my injury because another part of my life was over. These loses became too much for me, so I quit school. Dealing with therapy and learning to walk again resulted in severe depression. Some days, I wouldn’t get out of bed. I became very angry. I felt betrayed by God, and I’d ask him, “Why me?” I was a failure. I failed football, I failed school, and I failed at dealing with my grandmother’s death.
I began drinking and smoking pot. When it got expensive, I sold drugs. There were times I should have been caught. I realize now that God intervened because I had not forgotten him in my wrong-doing.
One day, I met Jessica. We became good friends. We began dating and soon our son, Brandon, was born. Since I never knew my father, I swore to become the best example I could for Brandon. I’d teach him not to quit and become better than me. Brandon convinced me to change.
Jessica and I found employment in telemarketing. One day, Jessica read about refinery jobs in Corpus Christi. I was hired making $8.00 an hour. I worked at digging holes, ditches, and other back-busting work. I didn’t mind because I kept thinking about my promise.
Another opportunity became available and I got that position making $14.00 hourly. I soon got another position as a Pipe-Fitter making $17.00 hourly. I was succeeding, but something still bothered me; I didn’t have a GED.
I attended GED classes briefly and took the GED test but failed. I retested without attending classes and passed everything but math. Later, I attempted the math test again, and failed. The hurt felt like it had when my injury destroyed my dreams. I felt like a failure.
One day, my wife said something that made all the difference. She said I should stop feeling like a failure and focus on Brandon. She said that those were words I said to her at a time when her strength was being tested while in college and she thought of quitting. My words helped her continue.
When my son learned that I had failed my math test, he said, “Dad, you always tell me to give 100%. Did you give 100%?” I thought about it and admitted that I had not.
I wanted to study harder than before. I heard those words in my mind repeatedly. I felt the need to try 100%. I reenrolled in school and did all the work my teacher assigned. I went to the library and worked on math. I’d wake up and think about what I’d work on dealing with math. Brandon and I even worked on his math homework.
One day, my teacher said I was ready to retest. This time, I felt different. Before, I always felt nervous. This time, I felt calm, peaceful, and relaxed. After days of waiting, I walked into the office and asked our data entry clerk if he would check scores. Each time, I had a gut-wrenching feeling when he’d say, “Nothing yet.” One morning, after he entered my social security number he said, “You know what, you passed!” My knees felt like Jell-O™. I had to go outside for a moment. I went back in and asked, “Are you sure?” He showed me the score. I was a GED graduate!
I felt proud, yet humble at the same time. I finally accomplished my goal. I learned that when I set my mind on something, I can achieve. It may take years, but my next goal is a college degree.
I have learned much on this journey. By becoming a college student, I will show my son that I’m not a quitter. I will teach him not to let the things that he can’t do get in the way of the things that he can do. I can give my son all the toys in the world, but that’s not what the journey is about. The journey is about reaching goals, in spite of obstacles. Now, I can teach my son by example and that’s what I promised him. This journey is another way I can show my son that I am a successful father.
About the Author
Arthur Riley graduated on July 7, 2008. He studied for his GED test for nine years off and on. He continues to work at the local refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas and plans to enter college in the near future. This accomplishment and all that came with it has made a tremendous difference in Arthur’s life.