BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Fifty adult education students walked to “Pomp and Circumstance” at the Queens Library Long Island City branch last Friday.
These students earned high school equivalency diplomas through the free Queens Library Adult Learner Program, which includes reading and math classes, peer support and professional referrals.
Rockaway resident Al Daley graduated alongside his wife and several friends. “It’s a great program,” Daley said. “[Math] is one of my favorite subjects apart from writing, and I really did enjoy the course.”
Daley has already begun coursework at DeVry College, where he is studying network and communications management. He and his friends were quietly pleased with the graduation ceremony, which they viewed as one step in a longer journey toward their higher education and career goals.
“It is good to know that people appreciate what we’ve done and at least showing that appreciation,” Daley said.
For other students, the graduation marked a highly emotional moment. Jasmin Hu, one of the student speakers at the ceremony, told through tears the story of her experience at the Flushing library branch.
“I escaped from China in 2010. When I was waiting for my asylum approval I went to the adult learning center at Flushing Library to study English,” Hu said. “All of the teachers, volunteers and the staff at the center were always willing to answer my questions, so my English improved fast.”
The center encouraged Hu to take resume and job workshops as well as high school equivalency classes. “I feel like I’m their family member, not only their student,” she said. Hu wants to become an acupuncturist – she completed her first semester at Queensborough Community College this spring.
Pascale Foli, pre-high school equivalency teacher at Queens Library, pointed to the responsibilities that education demands. “You should not be on your high horse that I have attained [the high school equivalency diploma],” he said. “That is not an end in itself, it’s a means to an end. As you all know, knowledge is power. When you acquire knowledge you have to make [a] difference in someone’s life.”
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Sunnyside) echoed these sentiments. “Never forget there are people on the ladder that you can pull up because you are an educated person,” she said. “And that’s the true happiness of being educated – that you can help someone else.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.