June 17, 2024

Rio student Valerie May began her academic career with Aspire’s Adult Diploma Program. She is now on the path to a career in nursing and will join Rio’s RN program in the Fall 2018 semester. Submitted photo.

Rio student Valerie May began her academic career with Aspire’s Adult Diploma Program. She is now on the path to a career in nursing and will join Rio’s RN program in the Fall 2018 semester. Submitted photo.

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College works to encourage higher education to the community. As part of this effort, Rio has an ongoing partnership with the Aspire program, which helps put potential nontraditional students on a faster path to college. Rio Director of Admissions Operations Amanda Ehman said one way Aspire is helping students reach this goal is through the grant-funded Adult Diploma Program.

“The Adult Diploma allows students to take a short-term certificate program. Once they pass the certification, they will earn the equivalent to their high school diploma,” Ehman said. “There are different certificates for different fields. For example, a student hoping to go into nursing would take the State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) program. One great thing about our partnership with Aspire is that we work together to help these students move forward and transition into college after receiving their GED or high school equivalent.”

Valerie May of Jackson, is a current student who began her career at Rio by first going through the Adult Diploma Program with Jackson County Aspire. After earning her certificate, she applied to Rio and began taking pre-requisite classes for the RN program in the summer of 2017. She said helped to put her on her intended career path and opened new opportunities for success.

“With my previous attempts at getting my GED, I had trouble balancing the work with my life and family. A relative who was taking classes at the Rio Grande Jackson Center brought some pamphlets to me and the Adult Diploma Program was in the stack. Another relative called the program and we both started the next day,” May said. “I really encourage people who need their GED to give this program a chance because they are so amazing and willing to help students with their studies. It’s not an easy program, so students really have to have their heart in it and be dedicated. Aspire and Rio have transformed me by giving me faith in myself and confidence in my studies.”

This spring, May was eligible to take the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) to try to qualify for Rio’s RN degree program. She was accepted to begin the program in the coming fall semester. She said she was inspired to become a nurse while researching a health condition her husband developed.

“I am so excited to be accepted into the nursing program. Even though I worked hard, I was still nervous about the HESI Test. Learning that I passed the test was a great experience,” May said. “It gave me the feeling of accomplishment and I realized I could actually succeed in nursing. I used to think that college was something I could never attain, but now I’ve accomplished so much and I’m grateful to be doing this not just for me, but for my husband and kids as well.”

The Adulthood Diploma Program is one of the many grant-funded programs Rio and Aspire are teaming up for to prepare students for college. One of these new programs will begin this summer through the Summer Bridge Grant. This program will allow those who have tested into one or more remedial courses to take a cohort of classes designed to give students the best opportunity for a successful academic start while promoting career readiness. Tuition, fees, and books for the program will be covered through the Summer Bridge Grant. Ehman said she is proud of May’s accomplishments and hopes the Adult Diploma and other new programs, will continue to help students get into their chosen career field.

“We are all so proud of Valerie and the hard work she has put in to get her on this path to a nursing associate’s degree. You can see that she knows this is the right field for her and we’re just so glad to be able to be part of her journey,” Ehman said. “She’s a wonderful example of how this program makes it possible for the students to get a certification, earn the equivalent of their high school diploma and get into college and get on the path to their dream career. This is why our partnership is so important to our community, and I’m so excited to continue our new ventures starting with the Summer Bridge Program.”

For more information about Aspire’s Adult Diploma Program or the Summer Bridge Program, contact Amanda Ehman at (740) 245-7443.