Do you live in Lower Providence Township? Do you have your high school diploma? According to the last U.S. Census, the township has around 12.5 percent of its residents that have not obtained even their high school degree.

Thankfully, as residents of Montgomery County, it is never too late to do so, and Lower Providence folks can do it for free. You can have one in just five weeks.

Last week, 45 local students earned their General Education Diplomas (GED) during Montgomery County Community College’s annual graduation ceremony on June 5 at the West Campus in Pottstown.

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“The graduates were part of MCCC’s rigorous five-week program that is among the most accelerated in the state,” said MCCC Communication Director Alana Mauger. “According to GED Program Coordinator and Instructor Raymond Ricketts, 860 students have completed the program since its inception in 2006; an 84 percent graduation rate.”

The program, which typically costs $100 for non-county residents, is free to those that reside in Montgomery County, including those in Lower Providence.

“The Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) funds the program, which is free to Montgomery County residents,” said Mauger. “The fee for out-of-county students is $100 and includes the course and GED exam.”

John Vestri, vice president of operations and finance for VideoRay in Pottstown, provided the keynote address for last week’s ceremonies. According to Mauger, he commended graduates for taking ownership of their education, and encouraged them to take advantage of all future educational opportunities that arise.

“Every single you chance you have to improve yourself through education, please take advantage of it. It will pay off in some way in the long run,” said Vestri. He added that there is “no such thing as a traditional education,” sharing “we all pursue what works for us; everyone is on some non-traditional path.”

Another local student said she was pleased the courses could help her prepare. Mauger said that, while providing the student address, graduate Jamie Gehman, Lower Pottsgrove, said the program “allowed me to focus on my problem area—math—and pass the GED with flying colors.”

A mother in Montgomery County, she said that the longer she waited, the less likely she thought obtaining her GED would become a reality.

“Gehman described how it became more and more difficult to return to school as time passed,” said Mauger. “However, as her youngest of four children started kindergarten this year, she realized it was time to continue her own education as well.”

She shared with her classmates and their families that she was happy she finally took the course.

“It’s never too late to give yourself or your loved ones a brighter future through education,” said Gehman.

Gehman did not stop her educational pursuits there.

“Gehman recently completed her first semester at the College, during which she earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA),” said Mauger. “She ultimately hopes to work with children who have learning challenges and brain trauma.”

Marisol Lezcano, executive director of the Montgomery County WIB and deputy director of commerce, presented the graduates with their diplomas, and Peggy Schmidt, chair, WIB Youth Council, provided closing remarks.

“I’m sure, as you have gone through this journey, people told you that you couldn’t do it. But your hard work paid off,” said Schmidt, just before asking attendees to join her in reciting the lyrics to “High Hopes.”

To learn more about the GED program or GED testing services, visit the MCCC website here.