Final Exam: One Student’s GED Path

No matter how hard it was, Myriam Costantino Balageur knew she could not quit. No matter how tired she felt; no matter how many times she failed, she absolutely could not give up on her education. She was going to earn her GED.

“What will my children think if I quit,” Myriam reflects. “I had to be an example.” She also did not want to let down her teachers and the volunteer tutors at the Durango Adult Education Center.

A Fork in the Road

Myriam emigrated to the U.S. from Argentina. (Image CC)

Myriam returned to complete her education late in life. Her children—one daughter and two sons—were all grown. She and her husband relocated from Chicago to Durango seeking the ease and quiet of small town life. A native Argentine, Myriam attained her U.S. citizenship in 2011 and worked in private childcare. But the arduous physical demands took their toll. After a serious hip injury, her doctor said no more hefting tots and toddlers.

Myriam knew her job prospects would be limited unless she did something daring: go back to school. She began classes at the DAEC three years ago. She rediscovered the challenges of homework, quizzes, and flashcards.

“My children said: You can do it! You can do it! Keep going!” Myriam recalls.

And she started to believe them when she aced her math and science exams. But then came the Reading and Language Arts exam and with it a series of frustrating failures. Her scores were close. So close. But not enough.

Then came the news that her husband’s job would be transferred away from Durango. They had a little more than a month to move. Myriam was out of time. It was now or never. She scheduled another Reading and Language exam for the middle of May.

When the Mind Wanders

On the test day, she cycled through the familiar high-tech check-in procedures. She signed the digital pen pad and took a deep breath. She posed for an identity-matching photograph. Deep breath. She clutched her scratch sheets and pen. Deep breath. The computer monitor loaded up questions.

Myriam, in her graduation regalia.

Anyone who picked up newspaper a couple of weeks back knows the results of Myriam’s test. In a large color photograph, Myriam posed in her victory blue graduation robe and cap. Her smile electric. Her joy infectious.

“I couldn’t sleep the night before. I was so excited,” she explains.

While she is sad to leave Durango, Myriam sees the world full of open doors now. Once the moving boxes are emptied, she plans to get her degree and work as either a medical assistant or an interpreter. To anyone considering a return to school, Myriam offers some sage advice, “El saber no ocupa lugar.”

Roughly translated: knowledge takes up no space. That is to say, you can never know too much. Acquire as much learning as you can because it is easy to carry wherever you go.

To Learn More

The Durango Adult Education Center provides English as a Second Language and GED instruction in both Durango and Cortez. Volunteer tutors are needed to supplement class instruction. Sign up to share your love of literacy with others.  Please email our Volunteer Coordinator if you are interested in helping a student achieve their educational goals.