GED offers lesson of hope, perseverance
Darerraul Jackson was 14 years old when fate threw him a jump ball he said he could not attempt to catch. He quit school in the ninth grade due to his mother’s illness and other family-related issues. His mother had a stroke that derailed young Jackson’s dream.
Yet Jackson, now 24, said he did not give up or lose hope. “I was 14 years old, when I dropped out of school,” said Darerraul, whom most of his friends know as Mikquell Jackson. He is the youngest of five siblings.
Today, following his schooling at Wayne County Community College District, Jackson, who is graduating this year, is heading to King’s College in Charlotte, N.C., on a full athletic scholarship to pursue a degree in criminal justice.
Among his athletic awards while playing for the WCCCD Wildcats Men’s basketball team were freshman honors: Conference freshmen of the year, freshmen first team, defensive first teams, all conference, tournament, regional teams; and his sophomore honors include: All conference; tournament, regional, district teams, defensive first team, national tournament fifth place, the Jack Cistriano Best Small Man award at national tournament, team captain, and National All American second team.
Darerraul, who was enrolled in what was called the “Second Chance Program” at Pershing High School, said he had to drop out again after a semester due to being homeless. “I started playing street basketball just to relieve my stress.”
Then one day Darerraul came across Rogeric Turner, who coaches the WCCCD Wildcats and who encouraged Jackson to enroll in the WCCCD’s General Educational Development (GED) program.
“I have known Darerraul for over five years and I saw great potential in him, and the least I could do was to mentor and provide support for him as he struggled with his life,” Turner said. He indicated he would love to further his education and tryout for the WCCCD Athletic Program. I could sense the enthusiasm in him and his willingness to jump at the opportunity.”
Turner said the rest is history as Darerraul enrolled in the WCCCD’s GED Program and graduated after one year of hard work. GED covers five subject areas — writing, reading, science, social studies and math. “The biggest challenge I faced was the GED itself,” Jackson remembered.
“The writing and math were the most difficult. I am not good at writing essays, and did not know anything past the basic math of adding and subtracting. The easiest part to me was reading, because I can read and comprehend well. I now believe anything is possible if you set your mind to it.”
WCCCD’s GED Program is one of the longest in the state and received recognition at a national level of successful attainment of the GED by the program’s full participants. The ability for GED students to learn and study on a college campus helps adult learners develop the confidence to move beyond completion and enter a post-secondary experience at WCCCD.
“The WCCCD GED Program was the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Jackson said. “Had it not been for the program and the strong support of the whole team and my family who stood behind me 100 percent, I really don’t know where I would have been.”
Ms. Antoinette Singleton, one of Darerraul Jackson’s GED instructors, described Jackson as a person of great character.
“He excelled in all his studies and showed great determination and not a defeated attribute, in spite of the personal obstacles he faced. He never gave up,” Singleton said. “He was one of our star students who encouraged others and was always so very helpful in the classroom. He has leadership skills, knowledge and strength that will take him far. Darerraul is a person full of passion.”
Jackson received his GED in 2012 after spending just one semester in the program. He was one of 40 students who graduated from a group of 90 students, his teacher added.
He credits his GED instructors and all those who have helped him along the way for their strong support. He now plays for the WCCCD Wildcats men’s basketball team coached by Rogeric Turner.
“Coach Turner is not just a coach, he is a friend and a great help to me and to every one of us on the basketball team. He pushes us to first excel academically before playing basketball.”
David C. Butty is executive dean for international programs/media specialist at Wayne County Community College District.