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Shekitia Walters decided this was the year she was going to change her life – even before the word ‘coronavirus’ became a part of everyone’s vernacular. After a couple of failed attempts, the Indian Head mother of five decided to dig in and complete the Adult Education Program at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) and attain something that she had desperately wanted for a long time: Her high school diploma.
“I’ve have wanted to get my high school diploma for so long,” shared Walters. “It was just something that was always hanging over my head. This year – I decided I was going to be consistent and get it done because I felt like I had to be the example to my children.”
Walters signed up for CSM’s National External Diploma Program (NEPD) which is available at community colleges throughout the state as a web-based program for adults and out-of-school youth to offer flexibility to earn a diploma. The online program allows students to work at their own pace with guidance and review from an advisor/assessor.
Walters started her NEPD journey in 2019 while working full time and when her children were ages 16, 15, 8, 5 and 16 months. In January, she decided to work from home as a parent and become a full-time student.
And then March came and everything changed. When the world went remote, Walters called the transition “discouraging and scary.”
“Suddenly, my children had schoolwork and were home all day, too.” she said. “But I wasn’t going to quit. I couldn’t quit. I decided to stay focused and just be consistent.”
Walters said she would not have been as successful if it were not for her CSM NEDP Lead Assessor Advisor Rosalind Rowan.
“She was amazing,” Walters shared while choking back tears. “She was an angel from God for me. She was flexible, encouraging, had the right words and she believed in me. I could feel it. She never wavered. She was the same amazing person every time I encountered her.”
With Rowan’s encouragement, Walters said she set up a schedule to rise earlier than her children in order to focus on her own school work before helping her children with theirs – and Rowan would meet Walters on that schedule, even if it was Rowan’s day off.
“She told me, ‘You just have to saturate yourself in it,’” Walters said of Rowan’s advice. “In that moment, I needed to hear that. I still hear that all the time now. She impacted my life so much.”
Walters earned her diploma in July and upon hearing that news she was overwhelmed with emotions.
“I was lifted up,” she explained. “A huge weight was literally lifted off me. My kids were jumping. My daughter brought out the wine glasses and poured lemonade in them. In that moment – everyone was ecstatic.”
Walters said she has ‘some ideas’ about what is next for her and her family, including starting her own hair salon business. She said she wants to continue at CSM for business classes and will take things from there. But one thing is certain, she said.
“I will give my clients positive energy like Ros gave me,” Walters said of her advisor. “She was teaching me other qualities that I needed in my life. I try to model her all the time now.”
For more information on CSM’s Adult Education Program, visit online at https://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/non-credit/adult-education/.