by Tim Diesch

“They changed my life,” recalls Prescott Valley resident and Yavapai College student Jennifer Edmonds. “For the first time, I felt like I was worth an education.”

Edmonds, now in her second semester at Yavapai College and pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Social and Human Services, is grateful to YC’s General Equivalency Diploma (GED) program and the instructors who helped her take a big step in getting closer to her goal of becoming a substance abuse counselor.

Edmonds did not arrive at her career choice lightly — she says that she ran away from home at around age 16.

“I got into drugs, ran with the wrong crowd,” she says. “I was out there for about 16 years. But I got fed up with it. I was just tired of being tired.” She and her boyfriend moved to a different city, and the change in surroundings and the separation from her regular crowd helped get her on track. She has since enjoyed 11 years of sobriety.

Edmonds credits the GED program not only with the means to move forward to a college academic track, but it kindled her excitement for learning as well. “The GED program got me interested in going forward with even more classes,” she says. “Taking these classes got me closer to my goal and closer to what I want to do with my life. I’ll keep going until I get my associate degree.”

Her newfound energy and commitment was only part of her formula for success — the instructors at Yavapai College supported her and helped her move forward.

“Kate really helped me with math,” says Edmonds, referring to Yavapai College GED Instructional Specialist Kate Redmon. “I took my math test two times. The first I missed passing by two points, and the second I missed by only one. I was really struggling.” Kate’s dedication to help her break through was a big part of finally passing that test, Edmonds says.

Edmonds also has high praise for her two main teachers, instructor Mark Frederick and Yavapai College Adult Basic Education Program Director Craig Lefever. “When I see them around on campus, they are friendly and interested, and they keep me going when things are rough.”

“I felt that the quality I got with the GED program was the spur that moved me to enroll at YC for college courses,” Edmonds says. “Everyone involved, from the GED program to the classes I’m taking now, give you confidence and self-worth. They take the time to make you realize it for yourself. They stayed on me and gave me the support I needed to continue. They’re just amazing people.”