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12th Grade Dropout, 60, Gets Diploma At VGCC

Julia H. Thorpe dropped out of school while in the 12th grade at the former Henderson Institute in 1963. She spent the next 40 years working and raising her two sons, Aaron, 35, and Kelsey, 33.

But she never lost her desire to learn and to get an education. “I focused my life on my boys and doing what was best for them,” said Thorpe, now 60. “Last year, I decided they were grown and now it’s my time.”

After 33 years of production work with Americal Corp., she was laid off when that plant ceased operations in Henderson, and she enrolled at Vance-Granville Community College in the Adult High School Diploma program in August 2003. After completing courses in physical science, global studies, government and economics, Thorpe proudly earned her high school diploma from VGCC on Oct. 7.

“Returning to school after so long was tough, but I knew I could do it,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed reading, and I’ve always liked to learn so I didn’t have a lot of trouble studying. Many nights I stayed up well past midnight to keep up on my reading assignments.”

Thorpe said going back to school was kind of scary. “I didn’t know how the younger people in the class would react to me, but I didn’t think about that; I just concentrated on my studies.”

In addition to the high school diploma studies, Thorpe took employability classes through Vance-Granville’s Human Resources Development division. She received training in computers and for office assistant.

Julia Thorpe isn’t through with school. She plans to continue at VGCC in a curriculum field of study and is looking as possibly entering the Radiography program. “No more factory production work for me,” she said.

Her advice for others who dropped out of high school: “Get back in school as fast as you can. When you get older, you find out how important that diploma can be.”

The Adult High School Diploma program is available at all four of Vance-Gr anville’s campuses – in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties. Anyone 18 years of age or older who attended but did not complete high school are eligible to participate. Students complete the credits they lacked in high school to earn their diplomas. Anyone interested in the program can contact any of VGCC’s campuses.

Thorpe said that Vance-Granville Community College is a good place to get your diploma. “The teachers have been very nice to me, and they are very helpful as long as you apply yourself and do your work,” she said.

Julia Thorpe’s final word on returning to school for her high school diploma: “It was a long journey and a hard one, too, but it was well worth it.”