CAMP VERDE – Angelina Lucio would have graduated from high school in 1976. Had life not gotten in the way.
“Before I quit school, I knew it would be the worst mistake of my life,” the Rimrock resident said recently. “But given the circumstances …”
Two years from graduating, Lucio dropped out of school in 1974. But that didn’t stop Lucio from getting her GED 40 years later.
“Life happens,” she likes to say. Not only did life’s circumstances get in the way of her high school graduation, but doors opened that allowed her to find the Camp Verde Adult Reading Program, and a chance to go back to school.
“They helped me a lot to heal, and to go ahead with my confidence to meet my dreams,” Lucio said.
With 32 years of marriage – and two children – Lucio found herself divorcing, and not sure what to do.
One thing was certain, she said. “Working for other people” wasn’t going to provide the financial support she needed.
So the professional caregiver started her own business. Despite working most every day, Lucio said she “had some time on my hands.”
So she decided to finish her high school education. Once she learned about the Camp Verde Adult Reading Program, she was committed to graduating within six months.
In May 2016, Lucio started the program.
“I felt all the pieces were coming together,” she said. “I met the people and was so impressed with how supportive they were. I can’t say enough about them.”
Less than six months later, Lucio completed the program, passed her GED, then took part in a graduation ceremony in December 2016. According to the Reading Program’s office manager, Lucio is a “shining beacon.”
“Her will power to reach this goal of what she wants to do, whatever she does, she’ll do a wonderful job,” said Kelly Roberts.
Making a difference
To Roberts, the hardest part of getting a GED is “walking through” the front door of the program.
Though Roberts stated that completing a GED program is “easier when you’re fresh out of high school,” Lucio has used her experience at the Reading Program as the first step in her new life.
Now a student at Yavapai College, Lucio expects to graduate with her Associate’s Degree in Social and Human Services. Then, off to Northern Arizona University.
Lucio said that one day, she will be a counselor.
“I want to be someone who can help people,” she said. “Especially the underdog. I want to make a difference.”
‘Start now, get after it’
The Camp Verde Adult Reading Program offers GED and ELL programming for learners of all ages.
According to Program Director Doug Watson, the Camp Verde Adult Reading Program also offers computer and technology classes “which are geared toward the older adults.”
“Sometimes the older adults are afraid of the technology,” Watson said. “So we’re providing services to help folks older than 50 to learn technology.”
At the Camp Verde Adult Reading Program, programs are “paced accordingly” to the students’ time schedules.
“Instruction is based on their abilities,” Watson said. “We adjust curriculum to help them with the things they need the most help with.”
The best advice Watson said he can give prospective older students is to “start now, get after it.”
“If it takes a little bit longer, you’d rather reach that age and achieve your goal.”
The Camp Verde Adult Reading Program is located on the first floor of the Camp Verde Community Library, at 130 Black Bridge Road. Call 928-554-8398 for more information.
-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42