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Lakeisha Burt got pregnant at 16. She knew exactly what people were thinking: she'd end up in a low-paying job doing nothing with her life. She didn't let it get to her. The teenager was one of 26 students who received their GED from the Adult Education School last week.

And because she isn't one to rest on her laurels, she has already set herself new goals: in September, she'll study criminal justice and nursing at Bermuda College; meanwhile, she's in the process of starting a business.

“I'm so proud of myself,” she said. “What I heard when I was pregnant with my daughter was, ‘She's not going to do anything with her life'.

“I've surprised a lot of people. Just because you have a child when you're young doesn't mean your life is over. You will have people tearing your name down, making you feel like you're the lowest person, but you can go far. It's up to you.

“Obviously it wasn't easy. But I had support behind me; my whole family.”

She returned to her godmother's home-school shortly after her daughter was born two years ago.

Adele Thomas allowed Lakeisha to bring Kiley to class, and suggested AES when she said she “wanted to move faster” with her studies.

“I was there for about nine months,” she said. “AES is one-on-one learning.

“When I was in the public school system, if I didn't understand something I would just pretend and the teachers would pass me on [to the next class] anyway.

“At AES they push you as if they're you're parents. They stay on top of you.”

Eight females and 18 males graduated from AES on June 21, having passed their General Education Development examination. Lakeisha also received the Committed to Change Award at the event.

Shai Richardson was struggling with maths lessons in the US when her mother proposed AES.

The former Bermuda Institute student started classes in September 2014 and is thrilled she made the switch.

“The teachers were very helpful, communicative, loving, caring, compassionate — basically like parents,” she said.

“It was a different feeling from my teachers in the past. I felt like I was getting the one-on-one help I needed.”

The experience showed the 20-year-old that “hard work pays off”.

She received the Jahmiko Perkin Award for most determined student at the AES ceremony at O'Hara House.

“I passed all my [other subjects] on the first try but I had to take maths four times,” she said. “Finally I passed with one point over the average.”

It gave her the confidence to enrol at Bermuda College, where she received mainly As in her graphic design and liberal arts courses.

In September she's off to the UK, where she's enrolled in classes at the University for the Creative Arts in Epsom.

Her advice to others considering AES: “It is really the best choice you can make when you run out of options. People are willing to help no matter what weakness you have.”

Joi Dyer-Richards enrolled at AES because her home-school didn't offer the GED programme.

“I was at Learning Express Academy for about two years but my mom had been looking for a school for me for a while,” she said.

“I could have gone straight to Bermuda College but she thought that having a GED was better for my future.”

Like Shai, she had difficulty with maths. AES proved a godsend.

“They work with you until you really get it as opposed to mainstream schools who just kind of push you through,” the 17-year-old said.

Her plan is to take English, maths “and maybe a music-appreciation class” at Bermuda College in September.

See more here: www.aesbda.org

Class act: some of the students who graduated with their GED from the Adult Education School this year (Photograph supplied)
Star student: Lakeisha Burt shows off her diploma and her Committed to Change award (Photograph supplied)
Planning ahead: Joi Dyer-Richards is now planning to study English and maths at Bermuda College (Photograph supplied)
AES graduate Shai Richardson (Photograph supplied)

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Published June 30, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated June 30, 2016 at 4:07 pm)

AES graduates celebrate their success

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