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Lake Land College celebrates GED students during Adult Week

For adults who did not graduate from high school, the thought of returning to a program to earn a GED can be frightening. 

“I was so scared to go back for my GED,” said April Byard, of Arcola. “I was really afraid I wouldn’t be able to pass the tests.”

Byard, who dropped out of high school because of excessive bullying, said that she simply couldn’t handle the mistreatment from other students she suffered each day, and that as a teenager, she felt like dropping out was her only choice. 

From the time she dropped out of high school to the time she enrolled in a GED program, she worked jobs that paid minimum wage like at fast food restaurants. 

“I was tired of working those jobs and realized that I would not be able to take care of my son and myself on those wages,” said Byard. “So, I knew I had to go back.”  

Byard enrolled at Lake Land College for her GED and passed all of the exams within six months of beginning the program. She then went on to earn three professional certificates from the college and an associate degree as an executive administrative assistant. Byard now works as the administrative assistant at the Center for Business and Industry at Lake Land College.

In fact, research shows that people with a GED earn an average of $300,000 more in their lifetime than those who did not finish high school or a GED program.

For Adra Baldwin of Mattoon, she enrolled in a GED program after moving several times her senior year of high school due to her father’s job in the military. 

“After moving from New York to Florida and then from Florida to Illinois, I was not eligible to graduate from high school in Illinois because none of the classes were designed to transfer easily, and I would have had to do my senior year all over again,” explained Baldwin. “To say I was upset is an understatement and I felt like enrolling in a GED program was the fastest way for me to move into higher education.”

Like Byard, Baldwin said she was petrified to take the GED exam. She said that she didn’t know what to expect but that by taking practice tests at her GED classes, her fears were eased. She passed her GED exams the first time she took them. 

Baldwin went on to graduate Cum Laude from Lake Land College in 2008 and, in 2012 she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Eastern Illinois University. Baldwin now works as the Community Based Jobs Training Coordinator at Lake Land. 

According to Baldwin, the stigma attached to earning a GED is frustrating, and she pushed forward with her own education to prove that earning a GED is a valuable opportunity for many people to get the education they want and a career that can support a family. 

“The best piece of advice I can give someone looking into a GED program is to not wait,” said Baldwin. “Enroll in classes as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it is to re-learn all that you’ve forgotten from high school. It’s just so worth it.”

To help celebrate adult students and those people interested in earning a GED, Lake Land College is hosting Adult Week from April 15-20. Check out one of the events, hosted by the college: 

Monday, April 15: Non-traditional Student of the Year Award recipient announced;

Tuesday, April 16: LLC Coffee at Joe Sippers in Effingham; 8 – 10 a.m. (for those interested in learning more about LLC);

Thursday, April 18: Adult Campus Tour Day (email or call 217-234-5215 to schedule a one-hour tour at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.;

Friday, April 19: GED Awareness Day; and

Saturday, April 20: College for All Ages at the Cross County Mall in Mattoon from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

New adult students, who register for summer or fall Lake Land College classes at LLC Coffee, Adult Campus Tour Day or College for All Ages, may qualify for one tuition-free class.  

For more information about Adult Week or to register for a Campus Tour, contact Kelly Allee, director of Communications and Creative Services at or call (217) 234-5215. 



Media Contacts

Kelly Allee
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

Paula Rosine
Marketing Design Coordinator

Megan Nelson
Marketing Production Specialist

Jenny Osborn
Marketing Design Coordinator

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