By MERS/Missouri Goodwill Industries Public Relations Contractor, Stephanie Widaman
On May 26, the first class of students graduated from St. Louis Excel Center, operated by MERS/Missouri Goodwill Industries (St. Louis).
“We’re beyond proud of all of our students receiving their high school diploma through the St. Louis Excel Center,” said David Kutchback, president and CEO of MERS Goodwill. “One of our main goals in mind when starting this program was to help individuals gain workplace certifications that allow for higher wages and greater career opportunities. We can’t wait to see the success of these students outside of the Excel Center and are thrilled we were able to help get them to this place.”
Six students received their high school diploma through the St. Louis Excel Center and will be moving on to join or reenter the workforce. Students also graduated from the local Goodwill® organization’s Poplar Bluff Excel Center on May 28, and the Springfield Excel Center on May 30.
One of the students in the first graduating class was Amanda McCleary. McCleary, recently profiled by St. Louis Public Radio, said when she learned about the high school for adults, she “called instantly.”
McCleary had previously enrolled in two separate GED certificate courses, but had never completed the programs. On May 26, she graduated in front of her friends and family, saying, “[It means] everything in the fact that my children are watching me walk across the stage; it just was the icing on the cake.”
“It’s been empowering to witness these students on their academic journey and help them in any way that we can,” said Jadee Lauer, St. Louis Excel Center Director. “I’m sad to see these students leaving us, but can’t wait to see how the Excel Center helps them achieve professional success. We are confident that this group now has the skills they need to live out their dreams and positively impact our community.”
There are approximately 500,000 people in Missouri over 21 years old without a high school diploma. MERS Goodwill hopes that people continue to take advantage of the Goodwill Excel Centers. The fourth Goodwill Excel Center, located in Columbia, MO, will open this fall.