First class graduates from Idaho ag worker GED course

The special program aims to help Latinos build a better future.

(TWIN FALLS) TIMES-NEWSJuly 26, 2013 

Rubi Arteaga cradles her 2-week-old son, Dreaiden Posada, during the Community Council of Idaho's High School Equivalency Program graduation ceremony this week in Burley.

LAURIE WELCH — Times-News

BURLEY — Ten students collected hard-won high school equivalency diplomas.

“You can’t get a decent job with decent pay without a diploma,” said graduate Rubi Arteaga, of Burley. “You have to settle for the jobs nobody else wants.”

Arteaga was part of the first graduating class of the Community Council of Idaho’s High School Equivalency Program for migrant and seasonal farm workers. The council is a federally funded nonprofit based in Caldwell that serves Latinos with education, health care, housing and community-development programs.

“I had to hurry up — time was ticking. I had a child on the way,” Arteaga said. “I set a goal. I want to get a great job and have a stable future for my son.”

To qualify for the program, a student’s income must come from agriculture, and the student must be at least 16 years old, said Vicky Fajardo, program director.

“Many of these people juggled working full time, their families and taking the GED classes,” Fajardo said. “They are focused on their families and have a desire to progress and obtain better jobs. A lot of them will be moving on to college.”

Program recruiter Susie Rios said the College of Southern Idaho provided an intern for the program, and South Central Community Action supplied student testing.

Rios provided motivation for the students to help keep them moving past challenges. On occasion, she went to homes and got people out of bed when they failed to show up for classes or testing.

“Value and celebrate your persistence,” Rios said.

Fajardo said many of the students are the first in their families to graduate from high school.

Arteaga plans to attend the College of Southern Idaho to study sign language and become an ultrasound technician.

Anabel Arteaga, of Rupert, a 22-year-old mother of three, said it was “pretty hard” finishing the classes.

“My brother got me enrolled, because he knew I wouldn’t do it, and my mom helped me with babysitting,” Anabel Arteaga said. “She pushed me a lot to do this.”

The Idaho Statesman contributed.

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