Rudy Campbell is determined to make up for failing out of high school. After skipping the last three weeks of school, Campbell did not receive his diploma from West Side High in Newark.
Now 61, Campbell said he would impart the following advice on his younger self: “It was all right to be different.”
Now enrolled at New Community’s Adult Learning Center, Campbell is determined to do things differently but has found that some old habits die hard. He was enrolled in an eight-week course to earn his GED. Towards the end, he skipped out on the last few classes. “I did the same thing I did in high school,” he observed.
But Campbell, who works for the City of Newark doing building maintenance, is not the same person he was all those years ago. He said he realized that having a GED can make a big difference in his longtime profession as a plumber, which he started at age 18.
“That’s one of the biggest requirements to getting into the plumbers union,” he said.
“I believe that if he continues to work hard and stay committed, we will hear great things from him,” Instructor Deyla Holt said of Campbell.
Born in Fayetteville, N.C., Campbell grew up in Long Island and then moved to Newark. After high school, he learned the plumbing trade seemingly by a chance encounter one day.
“A guy looked at me and said I should be a plumber,” he said with a laugh. That plumber took Campbell under his wing.
The Adult Learning Center is located at 563 Orange St. in Newark and offers courses such as English for Speakers of Other Languages, Citizenship, Computer (basic and intermediate) and GED as well as services such as health screenings and social service referrals. Campbell learned of the GED program and signed up after seeing a flyer posted at the Newark Public Library main branch on Broad Street.
Although he didn’t complete the entire course, Campbell has planned to take the GED in order to get a baseline score and identify what areas to work on. “I wasn’t too far behind,” Campbell said. “I feel if I really buckled down, I could get it.”
Campbell said he’s determined to redeem his high school experience.
“That’s my goal for 2017,” he said. “I already know that thousands of doors will open once I do that,” he said of earning his GED.