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‘I’m a dreamer who believes in a chance to succeed’

Douglas County library graduates first GED class


Eight-year-old Johnny Jenkins, and his brother J’Reece, 7, spent Sunday afternoon at the Douglas County Library in Parker. They weren’t there browsing the bookshelves or looking to check out the latest video game. They were there to watch their mother, Kiama, receive her high school diploma.

Jenkins, 27, who lives in the Pinery, left high school when she got pregnant with Johnny, and has spent the last 10 years working and raising her boys. Thanks to Douglas County Library’s Career Online High School program, Jenkins finally earned her diploma and is planning to attend the community college.

“This feels good,” said Jenkins, who chose a black cap and gown for the ceremony. “I never thought I could get my diploma. But now that I have kids I want them to make good choices.”

Jenkins was one of four graduates recognized at the ceremony, which was attended by dozens of friends and family members in the conference room at the library.

Tiffany Curtin, adult literary specialist for Douglas County Libraries who oversees the program, praised the graduates for their hard work and recognized several tutors who helped them.

“Family and friends, you helped make it happen for them,” said Curtin. “This is a great achievement, and I’m so proud of everyone here today.”

Each graduate had a specific reason for utilizing the program, and shared their stories with the crowd.

Skylar Nelson, 18, was in the seventh grade when she was stricken with cancer. Her grandfather spoke to the crowd about her dedication to earning her General Equivalency Diploma.

“Skylar was in the seventh grade when her education was interrupted,” said a teary-eyed Scott Stockton. “She spent the next several years just fighting to stay alive. I’m so proud of her, and for all of you graduates, congratulations. Everybody’s got a story.”

Nelson said she is cancer-free now, and is considering going into the field of medicine because of the great care she received. She currently works as a cook at the Egg and I and is planning to save her money for future education costs.

Sunita Safi, 22, spoke about the long path from Afghanistan, including as a refugee in India for more than eight years, before she finally made it to the United States.

After moving to Colorado in 2015 she heard about the GED program from a friend.

“My friend said `Why don’t you apply for your GED?’ ” said Safi. “I didn’t know what it was, but I found out with a GED I can go to college. A GED is a tool that unlocks many doors of opportunity. It took me 15 months to complete, and I won’t lie, it was difficult.”

Elena Sainz, 61, from Mexico, was the oldest graduate. With a creative flair she adorned her cap with an elegant picture of a woman.

“I’m a dreamer who believes in a chance to succeed, anytime, anywhere,” said Sainz, who also recently attained her U.S. citizenship. “I would come home from a hard day at work and have a hard night of classes. I want to thank Douglas County libraries for the opportunity to realize this dream.”


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