LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A high school diploma is often considered a valuable asset with benefits lasting a lifetime.
"When I interview a student, I tell them, you're coming to me today with one thing no one can take away from you," said Sallye Darmstadter.
And that's an education. A new study suggests when it comes to typical gaps between whites and blacks, of the percentage of those with at least a high school diploma, Texas was number 1 with the smallest gap. It's news that's not surprising to some East Texas educators.
"When you go out in the world, it doesn't matter what color you are, but if you're out there in the world and you don't have that education, it's going to impact you regardless of color, and it's going to affect you years to come and possibly the next generation," said Robert Hamilton.
It's a message students at Stubblefield Learning Center hear daily. They come from all socio-economic backgrounds and join a melting pot of cultures to receive tailored instruction.
"It's everything, a high school diploma is everything. It opens the doors for future training. A lot of our students leave us and go to the military, some of them actually go to work," Darmstadter said.
Agencies around the area say their push now is as strong as ever, aiming to reach what once were considered the unreachable.
"We're trying to reach all avenues. We can take them from 16 with a court-order, all the way up to however old they want to be to study. We've had them in their 60s and 70s getting their GED," said Laura A. Bush, the director of Angelina College's Adult Basic Education program.
Even the means of reaching those groups have changed, with new campaigns centered around social media. It's a method educators agree is proving successful.
"The community is one of the reasons we are continuing to close this gap because we really don't see color. We just see people in need of some life-changing events and hopefully we can continue moving this community forward," Hamilton said.
According to that same study, Texas has the 11th smallest gap among the percentage of white and black residents with at least a bachelor's degree.
Copyright 2016 KTRE. All rights reserved.