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Northwest GED Graduate Overcomes Obstacles for Success


Gandhi is credited with saying “We may stumble and fall but shall rise again; it should be enough if we did not run away from the battle.”

This seems the perfect quote to describe Northwest Mississippi Community College DeSoto Center student Pennie Medley of Southaven. Medley, with the odds against her, did not run away from the battle, but instead managed to persevere. She will graduate from Northwest later this year with an Associate of Arts. She plans to transfer to Baptist School of Nursing to pursue the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and to eventually become an oncology nurse practitioner.

In May 2013, after being in the GED program and dropping out four times, Medley took and passed the GED at DeSoto Center. She entered Northwest as a student that fall and began her pathway toward success. Medley is studying pre-nursing. She has succeeded at Northwest, and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, an international scholastic and leadership honor society for two-year colleges.

Medley’s journey was not an easy one, however. She started high school at Horn Lake High School, then moved to her father’s home in Bartlett and began attending Bolton High School, but dropped out at age 18. “I was only in 10th or 11th grade, because I had gotten into some things you really shouldn’t get into. I thought I was too old, and that I had more important things to do than high school, so I dropped out,” Medley said.

She was one of the lucky ones in terms of finding a job, however. Her father worked as a technician for a car dealership and she got a job working there, too. She worked there for 12 years, and went through two marriages and divorces and the birth of two children, now ages eight and 13. In addition to juggling parenting and working, Medley was caring for her father, who had cancer.

“It took me a while to realize I did not want to be in the car business for the rest of my life. I wanted to try something else,” Medley said. Once she made that choice, she came back to attempt the GED. She prepared for it through the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program at DeSoto Center. “Northwest is an easy program in the sense that the instructors are so well qualified and people oriented. They will talk with and help the students with whatever they need,” Medley said.

One of the instructors that Medley credits with helping her is ABE instructor Kay Robinson. “She has helped me so much. She is a great teacher,” Medley said.

Medley encourages anyone who dropped out of school and wants to come back to give it a try. She has already influenced at least one of her former classmates who found out through social media that she had passed her GED and was in college. “He came back and got his GED, and we walked in the GED commencement together,” Medley said.

Medley’s father recently passed away from cancer. She knows her dad was really proud of her and he believed that she would be a great nurse. Robinson believes Medley will achieve her goals. “We are very proud of Pennie and her dedication to keep on keeping on. She said that recent events have made her even more determined to achieve her goals. We wish her the very best as she moves ahead,” Robinson said.

Medley believes that anyone who really wants to, can work hard and pass the GED. “It is well worth it. It is not as hard as they think it is, and certainly not as time consuming as they think it is. They just need to set aside time to do it. It is not an unattainable goal,” Medley said.

For more information on Northwest’s ABE and GED programs, visit the college’s website.

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