Dr. Leticia Valencia, program director of Centro Hispano Marista writes:
Centro Hispano Marista is a ministry that provides affordable, bilingual, GED preparation classes for adults in Atlanta. Each Tuesday evening between 350 and 400 students arrive for classes taught by wonderful volunteers. Since its inception, the Centro has helped 290 graduates achieve their GED, or equivalent of a high school diploma, which has opened them the doors to higher-paying jobs, college, and job promotions.
We have just celebrated our 2019 graduation on December 10th - see the cover photo! Although our program shrunk and had difficulties in the past, we keep seeing the potential in adults who seek an education. They want a better future for themselves and their families. It is always heartwarming to see the happy tears of those students who after struggling to pass their last test they finally pass it! It is also with lots of encouragement that we try to keep motivated those students who will miss this graduation because of one point in their last test. We know they will be in the next one! Others get discouraged along the way, but they may come back later. The rest persevere because they know they can be in the next graduation ceremony.
We keep striving to follow the Society of Mary's values. Fr. Bill Rowland, who has led us through these difficult times, has always said that Centro is Mary's work in action. We agree. We keep being inspired by the commitment of our students and teachers, and also by the help of our supporters to keep the program running. We are truly grateful to everyone involved.
We always love to share messages of past graduates giving us an update, like the following note from Vanessa (shown in the picture with Fr. Rowland at the 2016 graduation): "Thank you to Centro Hispano Marista and everyone involved! Since my graduation, I have started attending college. I really enjoy every minute of it, and although I can only take a few classes at a time, I am doing great! I plan to finish my associate degree soon and my university degree in 2 more years. My kids, husband, and family are very excited for me, too! You all gave me the tools and the power to keep pursuing my dream!