Shengxia Ding has spent nearly 20 years studying English as a second language. A native speaker of Chinese, Shengxia immigrated to the U.S. after she married her husband, an American citizen. Today she has an amazing command of English but there is still one word that isn’t in her repertoire…can’t. Part of the reason Shengxia has continued to study language and other subjects to prepare for the GED®” exam, is that she tells her children and others who will listen “If you say you can’t do something, you haven’t committed to your goal. Education is wonderful.”
Recently Shengxia was honored through a Kentucky Skills U Adult Education initiative called “My Story Reimagined.” The goal of this program is to identify students who overcome obstacles and continue to push toward adult educational goals. Shengxia was nominated by Alex Kramer, online program assistant at the Jefferson Skills U Center in Louisville, KY. Kramer noted he “thought of Shengxia right away when the opportunity arose.”
The response was the same from Victoria Costello, an adult education instructor from the Jefferson Skills U. “When I first encountered Shengxia I noticed her quiet, personable and positive nature,” explained Costello. “Once I got to know her better her consistency in and commitment to reaching her goals stood out.” These traits made Shengxia a natural candidate for the My Story Reimagined recognition.
Jacqueline Korengel, Deputy Executive Director of Kentucky Skills U, described the My Story Reimagined recipients as those with grit. Korengel writes: “A common observation in these narratives is “grit.” Grit is a personality trait that is embodied by passion and resilience to achieve one’s goals. Overcoming obstacles and hardiness are also components of this personality trait. (Source: Alleydog Psychology) We frequently recognize the grit adult education students possess when they persevere and overcome barriers to pursuing their educational journeys.”
To launch the My Story Reimagined program and to recognize the inaugural honorees, Governor Andy Beshear and Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman gathered with Kentucky Skills U staff and eight adult learners last month at the Capitol in Frankfort, KY. Shengxia said it was such an honor. “I was so excited to meet the Governor. I knew my husband and kids were going to see and be so proud. It was so nice.”
Family is part of what motivates Shengxia. She has continued to study English and work toward her GED credential alongside being a wife and parenting her son, 13 and twin girls, 7. She hopes her commitment to education will inspire them. For herself, she hopes to continue to further her education and become a teacher or a nurse.
Shengxia credits her relationship with the staff at Jefferson Skills U with contributing to her success. “They are a great team. I enjoyed going to classes there but am thankful that I am able to study online during the pandemic.” Many Kentucky Skills U programs utilize KET Adult Education’s FastForward online learning platform to help learners prepare for the GED exam. “I used FastForward and the videos and explanations really helped me,” Shengxia said. She commented that she also liked the opportunities to practice skills within the program.
“KET is pleased to play a very small part in partnership with KY Skills U in the success of Shengxia and many other adult learners throughout Kentucky,” said Sarah Wilkins, Director of Adult and Workforce Education at KET. “It takes committed educators, students with grit and effective resources to culminate into success.”
KY Skills U serves learners from all 120 counties in Kentucky. For more information visit the KY Skills U website. The GED exam can be taken at a KY Skills U center or virtually. Currently the $120 fee is waived for Kentuckians.