A Big Day for High School Equivalency Graduates

Students Honored at Drive-Thru Celebration

RALEIGH, N.C. (December 4, 2021) – Wake Tech today celebrated more than 100 students who earned their high school equivalency diploma in 2021.

During a drive-thru graduation ceremony at the Beltline Education Center, the college recognized students in the Adult High School (AHS) and High School Equivalency Program (HSEP), including migrant and seasonal farm workers, who stayed strong and completed their credential. The achievement opens up new job opportunities for many while others plan to continue on and pursue a college degree.

Wearing masks and practicing social distancing, students walked across a stage in their cap and gown and took ceremonial photos with Wake Tech President Dr. Scott Ralls and other college leaders while their family members applauded and cheered proudly from their vehicles. Each graduate was allowed one vehicle of family and friends. The ceremony was also streamed on YouTube so other relatives and friends could watch remotely.

Twenty-two year old Janet Heredia-Jimenez said her parents and her daughter were her motivation to finish her high school diploma. Heredia-Jimenez dropped out of high school four years ago when she became pregnant, just two credits away from her diploma.

“My daughter is four years old now, and I want her to look up to me. She’s now in pre-K so I decided this summer that it was time for me to finish my diploma,” Heredia-Jimenez said.

“My parents also always wanted me to finish high school and see me walk across the stage and they are able to do that today so that was another motivation for me.”

Christina Tomlinson, 31, said she wanted to get her high school diploma to better her family’s future. “I realized I couldn’t go anywhere – get a better job or even further my education – without it,” she said.

The mother of three who works as a personal caregiver encouraged others in her shoes to stick with it. “It really opened my mindset that your age or being a mom doesn’t matter. If you push through it, anything is possible,” Tomlinson said.

Wake Tech offers HSEP and AHS programs year-round for students to finish a high school credential. Students complete their high school equivalency credential when they pass official tests in key subject areas of reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Tuition-waived preparatory courses are currently offered online due to the pandemic and students can work at their own pace.

The decision to earn or finish a high school diploma isn’t always easy for adults in normal times juggling family and work demands, but the achievement is particularly commendable during a global pandemic.

Dr. Michael Ellis, Wake Tech’s Dean of College and Career Readiness, said these adult learners deserve a lot of credit.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our graduates,” Ellis said. “The fact that they have overcome so many obstacles in the midst of a pandemic speaks to their determination to reach their goals no matter what. Many of them have already enrolled in college classes or job certification courses. I can’t wait to see how far they go.”

For more information about earning a high school equivalency credential at Wake Tech, visit

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September 2023

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