Davis receives diploma 34 years later

Staff Reports • Updated Sep 21, 2017 at 7:00 PM

Suoncire Davis sat inside the sanctuary at Fairview Church in Lebanon on May 26.  

It wasn’t a Sunday morning, but rather a Friday night, and in a few moments, she would step on stage to address the audience at the 2017 graduation ceremony of the Adult Learning Center.  

To some, this may not seem that big of an occasion, however, to Davis it was an accomplishment of a lifetime.   

It took Davis 34 years to get her high school diploma. Life took her in a lot of different directions. She lived in Germany and several states in the U.S. She was blessed to have jobs that provided a decent wage. However, she always knew she needed her diploma.

Her journey began when her daughter was 2 years old; this was her first attempt to get her diploma. As with most students, math was her biggest hurdle. With the frustrations of not understanding, she gave up. Thirteen years later while living in Massachusetts and working in the medical field as a certified nursing assistant, she decided it was time to try once more. Math won the battle again.    

Seven years later, Davis decided on a different approach. She took all the components of the GED except for math. The approach worked well for her. She passed four of the five subjects. She lived in Georgia at the time, working in a supervisory position with her job and making decent money. She was content for the time until her company downsized, and she was a casualty. She was offered another job within the same company, but it included a $5 per hour pay decrease. Davis continued to work with the company and took a second job to make up the difference in her pay while she continued to look for something better. Her luck proved true when she applied with a well-known company and got the job. One job with great pay, benefits and a bonus check incentive was an answered prayer. She was so excited to begin this new chapter, but the excitement came to an abrupt halt when the employer could not get her high school transcript. She had passed into the 12th grade.  Circumstances just kept her from going to class, and she did not graduate. 

Time was not on her side, either. Due to changes in the GED program, if she didn’t pass her math test by Jan. 1 of the upcoming year, she would have to start all over. This was her last attempt to pass math. She tried but did not succeed.  

In 2015, Davis moved to Tennessee with the encouragement of a longtime friend, who was like a second mother. She wanted her to move to Nashville, concentrate on getting her diploma and not worry about working. In Tennessee, the GED program was replaced by the high school equivalency diploma. She contacted the Adult Learning Center in Lebanon, enrolled and began taking classes. She said she knew she had made the right choice on the first day. Everyone encouraged her and made her feel welcome. It still wasn’t easy. She took the math test three times and was close, but it was the fourth time that mattered. She passed the test May 9, 34 years after her first attempt.   

She was introduced to the audience at the graduation ceremony as “Learner of the Year,” a most deserving award for Davis.  

Davis is excited to have a new job, and she will start college in the fall to work toward becoming a respiratory therapist. She encouraged everyone of whatever age to keep on pursuing the goal.  

“No matter how many times you don’t succeed, you can’t give up,” she said. 

The Adult Learning Center has free classes, teachers and staff to help anyone get a diploma.  Call 615-443-8731 or visit the office at 107 N. Greenwood St.

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