EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - Angelina College's Adult Learning Center announced that its computers and labs are already opened for use this semester. The college is offering several opportunities for East Texans to earn GEDs or enroll in English as a Second Language programs. Officials said the number of East Texans without diplomas is staggering.
Ernesto Pantoja poured over algebra notes after a layoff from his twelve year employer changed his life.
I had to get another opportunity and find another job after Lufkin Industries closed down," Pantoja said.
He's working toward earning his GED, a step he says he had no choice but to take.
"It's a necessity because without it, I can't get a job...a good paying job at that," Pantoja said.
It's an issue faced by thousands of East Texans.
"I think people would be surprised to learn that there are over 50,000 East Texans who don't have a diploma or GED," said Randy Roberts, the Grant Support Specialist.
"That's a lot of people," Pantoja said.
Angelina College is striving to connect the dots for those who take the opportunity.
"You come in, we give you a small test to see what you need help in....math, reading, writing," Roberts said.
The Adult Learning Center has expanded from serving four counties, to all twelve of Deep East Texas.
The classes are free, and a GED is not all the center has to offer. English as a second Language courses, post-secondary training, or even assistance improving skills to enter higher education.
"It's computerized now, so it takes a little more work but it's worth it in the end," Roberts said.
"It's not so hard. We have a lot of good teachers who break it down for you step by step," Pantoja said.
Roberts said AC is striving to get everyone involved.
Ernesto along with a lab full of adults on the road to enrichment have already grasped the power of knowledge.