Forty-two-year-old Bronx resident Christopher Long worked for several years as a computer analyst at investment bank Bear Stearns Companies, Inc.
Long loved his job but he felt trapped, even fearful that if he looked for another position his secret would come out: Long had never finished high school.
Forty-four-year-old Suzette Glace left high school during her senior year. She felt school was interfering with her burgeoning career as an actor.
But Glace was unable to support herself acting, so she took a job at The Roundabout Theatre and was eventually promoted to house manager.
Ten years later, she and her husband started a family and Glace chose to be a stay-at-home mom. Once her kids were in school, Glace decided she wanted to go back to work, but she knew it might be tough to find a job without a high school diploma.
BMCC offers HSE prep program
Both Long and Glace enrolled in the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) High School Equivalency (HSE) Preparation Program. Long entered the program in Fall 2014 and earned his HSE diploma in Spring 2015. Glace entered the program in Fall 2013 and earned her diploma in Winter 2014.
The HSE program is part of the BMCC Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development. The program serves adults age 19 and up. The state funded center offers both morning and evening classes and each semester starts with around 200 students.
The BMCC program prepares students to take the Test Assessing Secondary Completion, or TASC national high school equivalency exam. TASC replaced the GED in New York State in January 2014 after the for-profit company Pearson Vue Testing bought exclusive rights to the GED.
The BMCC program is more rigorous and demanding than other programs of its type, according to Continuing Education Academic Counselor Nicole Monte.
“Students come in, they meet the staff, and then they are tested to see if they are at the level in which we offer classes,” said Monte, adding that the students they admit need to be fully committed to the task at hand.
A path toward bigger goals
In September 2014, Suzette Glace began the CUNY Start program at BMCC to prepare her for the CUNY entrance exam.
She plans to enter BMCC in Winter 2016 as a Communication Studies major.
Eventually, Glace says she would like to work in concierge at an upscale hotel, such as The Plaza or the “W.”
Chris Long says that taking those first steps toward a high school diploma and college was very scary for a man approaching his mid-forties.
“Society prescribes that we are supposed to be at a certain place in life when we reach a certain age,” said Long. He began as a full-time Video Arts and Technology major at BMCC in Fall 2015.
Once he completes his associate degree, Long plans to transfer to either City College/CUNY or the School of Visual Arts. He eventually hopes to make documentary films.
“I’d like to work on films that make people think about how they can make their own, or other people’s situations better,” said Long.
Watch a full length interview with Christopher Long and Suzette Glace here.