Warner Robins – Sixty-eight years old is better late than never to start telling the truth; that’s why, Thomas Shepler, of Vienna, Ga., pursued his GED® and now represents Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) as one of two 2018 Golden GED® Graduates of the Year for Georgia.
“I have been lying on job applications for 50 years and I finally wanted to be truthful on one of those things,” Shepler said, to a roar of laughs by the audience after the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) named him the winner at the 2018 Adult Education Fall Conference and GED® Awards in September. TCSG hosts the awards annually as a part of its conference for adult education and testing leadership statewide.
“We are so excited for Mr. Shepler and his achievement and recognition as Golden GED® Graduate of the Year. Our team celebrates his award, commitment, and dedication to his goals,” said Dorothy Ferguson, director of operations for the Division. “While pursuing his GED® at our Hawkinsville Workforce Development Center, Mr. Shepler continually demonstrated a youthful passion and pursuit of his educational goals. Every student, faculty and staff member at CGTC and in institutions across the state can admire and learn from his accomplishments.”
Living in, “the middle of nowhere Vienna, Ga.,” as he put it, with seven dogs and his wife Dixie, is roughly a 40-minute drive to and from the Hawkinsville WDC where he took classes. As a career truck driver of 35 years and a part-time racehorse trainer, he is no stranger to long drives or the home stretch, so what became his biggest challenge to learning was actually algebra.
“He wouldn’t’ miss one minute of class,” said his wife, who married the veteran of the Navy when she was 19. She admires her husband’s work ethic as she has witnessed it through a marriage and life she said has gone through, “thick and thin.”
Shepler is one of the eldest of the 41,704 students enrolled in adult education programs in TCSG’s 22 institutions for fiscal year 2017-2018, and the 10,613 GED® graduates. He said none of it would be possible without instructors like his own, Merissa Sands, who made math less of a mountain for him to climb. He also recognizes that at his age, 69 now, a GED® says more about self-honesty and personal betterment than career outlook.
His advice to adults young and old considering a run at their GED® is to rely not on their fortune but fortitude.
“I was fortunate to work for Ford Motor Company early in life, fortunate to make enough money and have a good life, but for folks these days those opportunities aren’t there. This day and age, you had better know something. A GED® is the stepping-stone to better things. You cannot do it without it.”
Shepler’s award is one of five TCSG awarded to the Adult Education Division at CGTC.
Other awards include:
Overall Achievement of Measurable Skills Gains for the Division
Outstanding GED® Test Center Performance FY18 for Centers Serving More Than 701 Completers – Dana Mackey, a test administrator
Certified Literacy Community Program (CLCP) Advocacy Awards Volunteer Hours – Bibb County DREAM Team
CLCP Advocacy Awards GED® Testing Scholarships for Single County CLCP 2018 – Monroe County Adult & Community Education
For more information on the Adult Education Division contact, Dorothy Ferguson at email@example.com or call 478-218-3769.
PHOTO 1: Members of CGTC’s Adult Education Division faculty and staff gather following the presentation of awards at TCSG’s 2018 Adult Education Fall Conference and GED® Awards in September. The Division took home five awards.
PHOTO 2: The Technical College System of Georgia named Thomas Shepler, of Vienna Ga., one of its two 2018 Golden GED® Graduates of the Year during its 2018 Adult Education Fall Conference and GED® Awards in September. Shepler earned his GED® at 68.
PHOTO 3: (Courtesy of TCSG) 2018 Golden GED® Graduate, Thomas Shepler, walks to a standing ovation with, Dorothy Ferguson, director of Operations for the College’s Adult Education Division, following his speech at the TCSG 2018 Adult Education Fall Conference and GED® Awards.