Unyielding Determination: Isanede Irizarry’s GED Journey

Isanede Irizarry's journey is a testament to determination, and the power of self-belief. Born in Mayuez, Puerto Rico, Isanede's early love for schooling waned when turmoil at home led to a decline in her grades, and soon school became her last priority.

Izzy Irizarry

Isanede Irizarry was a student speaker during the GED Completion Ceremony on May 16, 2024.

Living across the street from her school didn't motivate Isanede to attend. Academic failure followed, along with stints in alternative schools.

“I remember getting one of my report cards one time and seeing all F’s. Part of me was disappointed and a major part of me just didn’t care. Everything changed when I was told I had to attend summer school. I knew I had let myself down and I felt like there was no coming back from it so why try?”

In 2019, Isanede briefly returned to a regular high school but lost motivation once again due to an unhealthy relationship. However, upon reflection, she realized she had lost herself in others' expectations. Returning to Roosevelt High School, Isanede faced her academic challenges head-on, earning credits but still feeling like a failure.

“I ended up attending an alternative school for about 2 years, there I slowly started to believe in myself again. I could feel the passion the little girl in me once had.”

The year 2022 was supposed to be her graduation year, and attending her sister's graduation ceremony stirred a deep longing within her. Determined to try again, Isanede was introduced to Rock Valley College's GED program by her sister, finding renewed confidence and determination.

However, her mental health suffered a setback in November 2022, leading to hospitalization. Yet, Isanede came through this dark time with a renewed commitment to herself and her future. Returning to RVC in spring 2023, Isanede made remarkable progress, passing three tests in a month despite the challenges.

Lori Romero, ABE/ASE (GED) Coordinator reflected on her words of encouragement for Isanede. “I knew she had a story, the grit and determination to make her goal a reality, and now the additional support to help her get it done. Isanede has handled trials that she has faced with grace. The thing that sticks out to me about her is if she gets down, she doesn't stay there, she gets back up and fights harder for her goals and dreams. She has a strong faith, absolute resolve, and a kind spirit, this will take her far in life.”

Her determination to graduate intensified as graduation approached, even though she struggled with her final math exam. Despite four failed attempts, Isanede persisted, fueled by faith and self-belief. On her fifth attempt, she finally passed, overwhelmed with gratitude and relief.

“When Izzy started in my class, she was anxious to complete the GED process so that she would get her diploma with her high school class,” said Rosemari Cain, Adult Education & Literacy Instuctor. “She was very committed and never missed classes, even when our classes were temporarily relocated from downtown to RVC at Samuelson Road. Then something happened she stopped attending classes. She returned to classes in the spring and immediately completed three of the four tests. She struggled with the math test, but she persevered over the semester, throughout the summer and into the fall of 2023. Izzy's dedication and commitment paid off in December 2023 when she completed her GED journey. It is heartwarming to witness Izzy's tenacity, resolve and success.”

Isanede credits her success to her unwavering faith in God, the support of her family, and her own determination to overcome adversity. Her message is one of hope and empowerment, reminding others that they too can conquer their challenges with faith, perseverance, and self-belief.

“If you know and believe in yourself enough to conquer all the negativity around and push for what you wish your life to look like, you can conquer anything, and this goes for more than just a diploma.”

Isanede was a student speaker during the GED Completion Ceremony on May 16, 2024.