GED to Degree in Three… Years
“It was a long time coming,” reflected 28-year-old Nathan Elliott, on the subject of earning his high school diploma. Yet Elliott, who dropped out of high school 12 years ago, actually set a blistering pace for his educational accomplishments. Elliott graduated for the second time from Grayson College on May 10 with his second Associate of Applied Science degree in Cyber Security Administration to go with his AAS degree in Computer Maintenance and Networking Technology. Elliott also racked up a total of four additional certifications in the process: Computer Support Technician; Cyber Security Technician; Computer Network Technician; and Computer Network Administration. From the time that Elliott inquired at Grayson College about completing his high school credential to his most recent graduation barely more than 36 months had passed.
Elliott’s own drive and determination led to his impressive success. However, Elliott acknowledges that a few individuals were essential to his journey. First, Carrie Stell, Grayson College Adult Education and Literacy Instructor, welcomed Elliott into her Gainesville Adult Education classroom. “Carrie was amazing,” proclaimed Elliott. She clearly articulated a pathway to success and patiently explained the steps to obtaining his high school credential (commonly known by the brand name GED®).
Stell introduced Elliott to the practice of Integrated Education and Training or IET. IET is simply coupling practical workforce training with adult education and literacy. At Grayson College, Elliott attended adult education classes at the same time he completed six hours of college level coursework in computer repair and maintenance. While Elliott certainly put in the hard work and the hours needed for study, he gives Stell praise. “If it hadn’t been for Carrie believing in me that I could do it, I wouldn’t have tried it at all.”
John Dick, Computer Maintenance and Networking Program Director at Grayson College, also helped guide Elliott. “John Dick is really incredible. I don’t think I’ve had a better teacher in my entire run, donating his time to see that I had what I needed,” explained Elliott. Dick encouraged Elliott to strive for even more from Grayson College, steering him to go beyond computer repair to complete the Computer Maintenance and Networking program and add the Cyber Security degree on top of that.
Elliott managed to work the entire time he was a student as well. First as a security guard at a Lake Texoma resort, and then in 2017 his Computer Support certificates earned him the full-time Technology Coordinator position at Walnut Bend ISD. Family is a key part of Elliott’s life too. His wife, a junior high math teacher, pushed him to go back to get his high school credential. His first daughter was born by the time he had earned his GED®, and his second daughter was born the day before his first college graduation. Luckily, Elliott gave everyone a second chance to see him graduate, and cum laude the second time no less!
For now, Elliott is giving himself a little break in his educational pursuits. Ultimately, he plans to take advantage of the Grayson College to UNT transfer option to earn his BAAS. One day he hopes to be the technology director for a large ISD, giving students the resources they need to reach their own graduation day.
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