Cathy Ryan, 58, of Tillsonburg, Ontario, says it was simple foolishness that led her to drop out of high school in 1981, but it was perseverance that kept Ryan going after she enrolled in classes last year.
And this June, Ryan graduated from high school with an impressive report card.
“It just took a lot longer than I thought,” Ryan said.
Ryan attended Woodstock Collegiate Institute from 1979 to 1981, but in the middle of 11th grade he decided to go to work in a cafe. And when Ryan became a mother at 19, going back to school seemed more difficult.
I’m surprised, but actually I did extremely well in all four courses,– High school graduate, Cathy Ryan, 58
“I always wanted to be a mom and a teacher,” Ryan said. “Unfortunately, the teacher’s part is out of the equation now,” she said.
Last year, Ryan decided that graduating high school was still within his grasp.
“Suddenly, I decided it was time,” he said. Last November, Ryan began taking online courses through the Thames Valley District School Board’s continuing education program at the GA Wheable Center.
High marks across the board
As a mature student, Ryan only needed four eight-week courses to graduate. He took English, Math for Work and Daily Life, Equity, Diversity and Social Justice, and Business Technology.
“Everything was online,” said Ryan, who turned in his last assignment on June 22. “You had to be online for at least three hours a day. I was online for four to eight or nine hours a day.”
Ryan passed every class.
“I’m surprised, but I actually did extremely well in all four courses,” Ryan said.
If Ryan turned in an assignment and she wasn’t happy with the grade she received, she would do it again. “I got feedback and redid the work I messed up and then they improved your grade.”
Watch Cathy Ryan turn in her final assignment:
I’m still waiting for the diploma
It has all been a learning experience, not only for Ryan, but also for his three grandchildren.
“Everyone has been extremely proud,” he said. “I got to high five all of them.”
“Many times I heard my mom talk to her three young grandchildren about how she had homework just like they did,” said Ryan’s daughter, Jessica Christo. “She was a constant reminder and role model to them about how important school is.”
Ryan is still waiting for his diploma. When he is ready, he will have to go to London to pick it up.
“They will have a cap and gown ready so you can take pictures of yourself holding your diploma,” Ryan said. “I’m still in awe, I think I’m still in the cloud, but I’m pretty proud of myself.”
london morning6:34Meet the 58-year-old grandmother who just got her high school diploma