Joshua Odom and Ruth Moyer were determined not to become statistics when they enrolled in the Adult Education Services program at Western New Mexico University. Both high school dropouts, and without a steady job, this past fall they decided to make a turn in direction.
“I felt like it was time for me to do something with my life,” said Odom a 29-year-old Las Cruces native. “I had been in and out of jobs and had a rough childhood.”
A few months after enrolling in the Adult Education program, Odom is one of two students to be recognized as the Outstanding Student of the Year by the State of New Mexico in February. Of the 28 Adult Education Services program in the state, Odom and Moyer were selected from the WNMU-based program.
“This is the third year in a row that the Outstanding Student of the Year is chosen from our program,” said Debbie Maldonado, program director.
Odom was born with cerebral palsy. His left hand is immobile which he describes as a small setback in his life.
“I can’t lift heavy things, but other than that I embrace my disability,” said Odom. “I want people to see that even if you have a rough childhood, you can still make it.”
Odom completed the High School Equivalency preparation program with Adult Education Services and is eager to pass the exam and get enrolled at WNMU.
“I’m hoping to become a social worker to help people like me,” said Odom.
Also recognized as an Outstanding Student of the Year, Moyer has passed her High School Equivalency Exam and will soon be enrolling as a freshman at WNMU.
“I didn’t have the right priorities in mind and I was hanging out with kids that were a lot older than me,” said Moyer. “I just drifted.”
When Moyer walked into the Adult Education Services offices last year, the 20-year-old was looking for an opportunity for a new beginning after some encouragement from her church priest.
“I finally found a calling to come back to education,” said Moyer. “My priest reminded me that I couldn’t depend on anyone and I need to go out and do my own thing and live for myself.”
Moyer plans to earn a degree in Early Childhood Education.
In the last three years, the transition rate of community members enrolled in Adult Education Services programs to those that become full-time students at WNMU and other colleges has increased.
“At the moment we have a 75% transition rate,” said Maldonado. “Last year we serviced over 400 people. When we first started we had 220 per year.”
The Adult Education Services program offers free services to area residents in high school equivalency preparation, English as a Second Language, basic computer skills, reading, math and writing. For more information, contact 575-574-5101.