Brazil native among local GED graduatesDeize Korkowski has come a long way since she moved to the United States 10 years ago.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
Deize Korkowski has come a long way since she moved to the United States 10 years ago. She couldn’t speak a word of English when she arrived – tonight she gets her high school diploma.
Korkowski came to America from Brazil in 2000. She had lost her job as the manager of a jewelry store and was searching for a new start.
“I was looking for a new life and for love, and I found both,” she said of why she left Brazil.
Able to speak only Portugese, she lived in Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts and then again in Florida. That’s when she met her future husband, Rick Korkowski of Brandon. She moved here in September 2003 and the couple married.
Having dropped out of high school in Brazil, and unable to speak English, Korkowski immediately enrolled in the English as a second language class through the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program in Alexandria. She worked for six years perfecting her English skills, with her ultimate goal getting her GED.
In the meantime, the Korkowskis had two daughters, Kiatta, now 4, and Hannah, 2. The busy mom continued her studies in English.
Last year, Korkowski decided that her English was to the point where she could take the GED to earn her high school diploma. But with two little ones at home, getting to the classes would be difficult.
Fortunately, a new online program through ABE, called GED-i, had become available January 2009. The GED-i program allows students to study for the GED online instead of attending classes.
“The program is very, very good,” Korkowski said. “I don’t have to leave my house, don’t have to drive and pay for gas. No babysitters.”
To be eligible, Korkowski had to study at least 12 hours a week to prepare for the five tests that comprise the GED – language arts/reading, language arts/writing, math, science and social studies. She opted to study in each individual subject and then take the test for that subject, as opposed to taking the entire test at one time.
Her hard work and dedication, not to mention the convenience of the online program, paid off. In November, Korkowski passed the final of the five tests.
“Oh yes, of course!” she said when asked if she was proud of finally earning her high school diploma – in a language that wasn’t her native tongue. “More than I thought. It made me feel very good.”
Korkowski will walk across the stage tonight, May 26, and receive her long-awaited diploma (see sidebar for information). She is only the second person to earn a GED-i since the program’s online inception last year.
“I accomplished two goals,” she said. “I learned English and got my diploma.”
Korkowski’s future plans include taking classes at Alexandria Technical College “as soon as possible,” eventually continuing on to get a college degree.
“Passing my GED was very important to me,” Korkowski concluded. “It helped my self-esteem a lot and it can also help me get a better job and allow me to keep going forward.”
Starting in June, Adult Basic Education classes will move to a new location at the Alexandria Technical College Interior Design Center, Room 907, 1204 Highway 27 West, Alexandria.
Summer office hours are Mondays, 12:30 to 4 p.m.; Tuesdays, 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.; and Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. to noon.
Call (320) 762-3312 to register for classes.
What: Alexandria Area Adult Basic Education GED graduation ceremony
When: Wednesday, May 26 from 7 to 8 p.m.
Where: Discovery Middle School in Alexandria