2023 GED Grad Seeks Self Improvement

Receiving her GED hasn't hit Grace Petrus just yet, but she's happy and excited to have the willpower to do it, and more importantly, she did it for herself.


Close up of female student speaker

2023 GED Commencement speaker Grace Petrus

Grace started high school as a gifted student with all AP classes, then the COVID pandemic hit. New counselors came into her school, and her 504 plan was immediately canceled, leaving her short 18 credits. Her education became secondary when her partner was diagnosed with cancer, and that became her focus for the next two years. "If there's anything I've learned in the last few years, it's that there's always going to be change, even when you think there's not going to be, it's just always going to be there," said Grace.

Grace soon realized she had to do something for herself. She explored online options to get her GED but wanted a local option for in-person classes. Her mother sent her a link to RVC's GED program, and she started looking into it. She decided to put her time toward functional things like getting that important piece of paper because it'll look great on other pieces of paper. "It doesn't matter that it's a GED," said Grace. She got started with the program in the fall of 2022.

Her new instructor, Nikki Fricks, was a great mentor and teacher. She understands everybody learns differently and often needs a different approach to studying. One of Grace's biggest fears was a repeat of her high school experiences, but Nikki made her feel at ease. "It was frustrating for me in the past because everybody gives 100% differently," said Grace. "And no one understands until you break down that 100%, but no one wants to go through and break down that 100% every day."

Grace's schedule wasn’t considered regular, as she completed her work at different times. She was encouraged to keep moving forward, and her small milestones were celebrated.

The RVC downtown location was convenient for Grace, and she found the curriculum accessible. She often couldn't be present for in-person classwork due to full-time work, but the classes offered her the opportunity to develop a baseline with collective goals to pass her tests.

"Grace lived up to her name and will continue to live up to her name; she moved through the program with effortless grace and earned her State of Illinois High School diploma," said Nikki Fricks.

Grace will always strive to better herself and others. She would like to explore social work or a related field. "I do enjoy helping people and working with people. I also think that getting the process set up, it's hard, but if others can do this, then why can't I do it?"

Grace Petrus was a student speaker during the 2023 GED ceremony.