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All-American Success Stories in Workforce Education

 No Excuses, No Escape from Succeeding

Yvonne Boykin
First Place Winner, Adult Education,
Region 2

"No excuses, no escape," is what Yvonne Boykin says when she hears any young person with excuses for not succeeding in life. Yvonne has traveled down life's bumpy road and if she can succeed, she feels anyone can. Yvonne was born in Starke, Florida. She delayed her dreams of completing high school and attending college. Working full-time and raising two children on her own consumed her life. After 28 years with her employer, she was laid off without notice. She felt hopeless and disheartened. With a daughter away at college to support, she had no idea where to turn. "I just prayed, I felt alone, I could hardly pay the bills."

After many challenges in life, Yvonne decided that she had to do something, so she went back to the place she had left so long ago — SCHOOL. At age 55, Yvonne fulfilled her dream of completing high school and enrolled at Bradford-Union Area Vocational-Technical Center in 2001. She worked on improving her basic skills to take the GED exam, and on April 23, 2003, she received her adult high school diploma. This was the beginning of her educational and career successes. She immediately enrolled in the Correctional Training Institute at Lake City Community College. She is now employed as a correctional officer and states, "When I put on that uniform, I feel so proud and important."

She is a caretaker for the elderly and needy, and she encourages young people to do something with their lives. "I feel that it was by divine appointment that I was placed in the position as a correctional officer. Not only is it good job, but it gives me the opportunity to mentor other young people who are headed down the wrong path. It is never too late to change. I am living proof, so I make it my job to keep these young men from coming back to prison."

 GED Grad Becomes A Military Sergeant

Sgt. Dennis Ray Rigsby
Second Place Winner, Adult Education,
Region 2

Dennis had a hard life as a child. He was separated from his brother and sister at age six and was not reunited with them until later in his adult life. High school seemed to be a challenge for him, and he wasn't sure what to do or which path to take. Rigsby entered the GED Program at St. Johns River Community College at age 16. His parents only had one vehicle, so his 40-mile round trip commute to attend class consisted of public transportation from Interlachen to Palatka twice a week. Rigsby began his studies in September 1996 and received his State of Florida high school diploma in March 1997. At that time, employment opportunities were scarce in his rural community, so he decided to join the United States Army on his eighteenth birthday.

After basic training, Dennis' unit was assigned to go to Bosnia in the spring of 1999 to support the Kosovo air campaign. He was an indirect fire infantryman with the rank of Private First Class. Since his tour of duty in Bosnia, Rigsby was promoted to a Sergeant in the United States Army. To achieve this rank, he completed the Primary Leadership Development Course. He achieved the second highest grade point average of 99.0% and graduated from the program with honors. Rigsby received a promotion and became an anti-armor weapons instructor with the U.S. Army Infantry School. He has taught lieutenants entering the army, many of whom were headed for Iraq. Rigsby is currently working in the operations department of Bravo Company and waiting to receive his next set of orders. In addition, he is also attending Troy State University to receive a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

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