La Plata, MD- The year after she quit school at 16, Brandy Ringer asked to go back. But pregnant at 17 and in her second year of sophomore year, she dropped out again. She was on her way to earning her diploma, but a car accident, a child born, life … it got in the way.

“I push my son to go to school,” Ringer said. “Then it happened. ‘Why do I need to graduate when you didn’t,’ came out of my 9-year-old’s smart mouth.” It spurred Ringer to finally get her diploma. She is now attending the College of Southern Maryland, studying phlebotomy.

Ringer was one of 61 graduates of the 2017-18 class of the adult diploma programs of the Lifelong Learning Center. During a graduation ceremony Oct. 18 at North Point High School, 21 graduates walked the stage to collect their diplomas.

“What these graduates have done, they have opened the story of their life, opened their book and today they had a blank page,” said Kelly Schulz, secretary of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. “They chose to fill their blank page today with a lifetime of opportunity.”

The Charles County Adult Education Program offers a day and evening classes including preparation for a Maryland State High School Diploma, English as a Second Language, basic skills, career pathways and citizenship classes.

Adults may qualify to enroll directly in one of two pathways which lead to a high school diploma, either General Educational Development (GED) or National External Diploma Program (NEDP).