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“Don’t underestimate the value of prior experience”

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Posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at 5:35 PM


Chris is a striver. He was in high school when his girlfriend got pregnant.  He had a summer job as an assistant manager at a convenience store.  Chris decided to continue working, forfeiting his senior year of high school.  He didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.

Chris embraced parenting and is an involved dad.  When at his child’s pediatric appointment, he mentioned he wanted to get a better job and the nurse suggested he apply for a position at her husband’s place of employment.  Soon after, Chris began a long-term career working for a small automotive parts delivery service followed by heavy-duty truck part sales.

“It never came up that I didn’t have my high school diploma,” Chris said.  “Then, the company I was working for was bought out and I was told a high school diploma was required.”

This reality motivated Chris to restart his formal education.  He enrolled at Vermont Adult Learning’s Chittenden Learning Center.  As with so many of our students juggling full-time jobs and families, Chris completed coursework, intermittently, as life demanded his attention elsewhere. 

Two of Chris’ stepchildren have Von Willebrand Disease, a bleeding disorder caused by low levels of clotting protein in blood. Chris trained and attended conferences with the New England Hemophilia Association, most recently acting as an Ambassador, raising awareness of the disease.  He satisfied a high school science requirement by studying the disease.  He took his family to a gathering in Washington, D.C. to advocate for those impacted by the disease.  He used the trip to several Smithsonian Museums and the Holocaust Museum and wrote about the experience, again, for academic credit.  

Chris’ employer let him go in the beginning of Vermont’s Stay at Home Order because of the Covid-19 Pandemic.  The combination of TIME and Vermont Adult Learning offering VIRTUAL CLASSES in response to the pandemic created the opportunity for Chris to finish his high school diploma.

For those considering restarting their education, Chris offers these words of encouragement:  “Don’t underestimate the value of prior experience.  The things I did in my jobs helped me get academic credit.  I have skills in graphing, pricing, quality control and flooring. The virtual learning part, that really helped me.  It was less stressful and, now, I’m done.”

Next up for Chris:  College-level classes at the Community College of Vermont with an eye toward earning his business degree.

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