Turning Tragedy Into Motivation, GED Student Pursues Goals

Lisandro Rodriguez turned a personal loss in 2012 into his motivation for pursuing his goals.
Lisandro Rodriguez turned a personal loss in 2012 into his motivation for pursuing his goals.

Despite having a thriving career, Lisandro Rodriguez decided to return back to the classroom to earn his GED at New Community.

Most of his coworkers at the biomedical technology company where Rodriguez has worked for 17 years would likely be surprised to learn that he doesn’t have his GED, he said. “It’s just something for me,” said Rodriguez.

During the summer, he enrolled in the GED class offered at New Community’s Adult Learning Center with instructor Delya Holt. He plans to tackle the four-part exam in pieces, first taking the math section.

“I lack confidence when it comes to tests,” Rodriguez acknowledged. That’s why he came to class hungry to learn and even supplemented the lessons at home with online resources such as tutorials on YouTube. Holt said she noticed Rodriguez’s attentiveness and drive to succeed. “Everything I teach, he absorbs like a sponge,” Holt said. “He is so bright,” she added.

Rodriguez said he hopes to enroll at a college in the future and pursue a bachelor’s degree, possibly in electrical engineering. He admits he’s come a long way from the days of his youth, when he dropped out of Passaic High in the tenth grade.

Bored in the classroom, Rodriguez made an exit and soon found himself running with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble. “I learned my lesson very young,” he said. “There was no excuse for the route that I chose.”

He took a job as a driver for the biomedical company he’s currently employed at and started climbing the ladder. Things were going well for Rodriguez when tragedy struck. On Nov. 6, 2012, Rodriguez’s fiancé died of a heart attack. It was a loss so acute that it forced Rodriguez to reevaluate his entire outlook on life.

He decided to cut out excessive drinking and focused on improving his own health by joining a gym and eating a healthy diet. He cancelled his cable and started frequenting the library instead. “I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’m the most focused,” Rodriguez, 38, said.

It was with that same drive that he recently completed the GED class. “It helped a lot, it really did,” he said.

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