2012 Athens County ABLE Graduation Ceremony

Walking up to receive a diploma is special for anyone, but the moment had to be extra special for Taylor Faye Gwinn on Friday, June 1.

It wasn’t that long ago that a car accident nearly claimed Gwinn’s life. She suffered numerous injuries and could not walk for a time afterward, but on June 1 she walked up to receive her diploma. She also shared her inspiring story in an outstanding speech she gave to the graduates and audience members.

Gwinn gave her speech at the Athens County Adult Basic Literacy and Education (ABLE) graduation ceremony held at Chauncey Elementary School.  The ABLE program helped 44 students earn their GEDs during the 2011-2012 academic year, and all of the graduates were invited to the ceremony. Those in attendance took part in a special evening highlighted by Gwinn’s speech and a tribute to teacher Candy Byron, who passed away recently.

In her speech, Gwinn explained that she dropped out of high school after she became pregnant.  And while the pregnancy changed her life, everything changed again when she was injured in a car accident. She suffered from a broken femur, broken ribs, lacerated liver, lacerated pancreas, broken hip and other injuries. She was pregnant at the time of her accident, but thankfully her son was fine and now has become an inspiration for her.

While getting better physically, Gwinn also enrolled in the ABLE program at The Work Station to begin working toward her GED. She enjoyed the program and is thankful to everyone who helped her overcome all of her challenges so that she could recover from her injuries and also earn her degree.

All of the GED graduates have had to overcome their own obstacles in order to earn their degrees, and they should be proud of their accomplishments, Gwinn said.

 “Be proud of yourself and go chase your dreams,” Gwinn said.

The other graduates who received their diplomas at the ceremony included Victor Worrix, Tee Elizabeth Peck, Natilee Gross and Rinda Mari Niggemeyer.

Worrix, who is from Sharpsburg, plans to eventually go to college.

Gross, who is from Athens, will begin studying in the police science program at Hocking College in the fall. She enjoyed learning in the ABLE program and is proud to have earned her GED.

“I’m glad that I did it,” she said.

Peck, who is from The Plains, also had to battle serious health problems in the last few years.

“I have had two strokes and a heart surgery,” Peck said, adding that she dropped out of school in 2010 due to her health problems. She enjoyed studying in the ABLE program and said that teacher Scott Hatfield was very helpful.

“He kept encouraging me,” Peck said.  She will be studying in the surgery/operating room technology program at Hocking College in the fall.

Scott Hatfield and Candy Byron have encouraged and helped numerous students over the years in the Athens County ABLE program. Byron was battling health problems during the 2011-2012 year, but still worked diligently to teach her students for as long as she could.

Byron passed away in May, and was honored with a special tribute during the graduation ceremony. It was fitting to honor Byron at the ceremony, as she loved seeing her students receive their diplomas at the event each year. A plaque has been placed in The Work Station to honor and remember her for all that she did for her students.