For many of AVANCE students, their dream to earn a college degree came closer to a reality on June 1, 2012 during their graduation ceremony, as not only they received their GED certificates but also scholarships to pay for college.

“I’m proud to say that we had 100% graduation rate this year” said GED instructor John LaGrone who congratulated each student as he handed them the certificates. “These students worked really hard, passed the test and I’m very proud of them” he added.

David Joost, Director Adult Education programs for Houston Community College delivered the commencement speech, followed by a skit performed by the students, and a special recognition to Wells Fargo Foundation for its financial support to the AVANCE Adult Education programs.

Later Brendan Halford, VP store manager for Macy’s presented six $500.00 college scholarships to students who have completed their college enrollment.

Halford, a GED graduate and HCC alumnus himself encouraged the students to continue their education. “Like you, years ago my dream was to earn a GED and go to college, and I did it, –with perseverance, you can, and will do it” he said.

Another highlight was the testimonial shared by Gricelda Sauceda, a former AVANCE GED graduate and mother of three who is only a few credits away from earning her Associates degree in Early Childhood Development at HCC. As one of many AVANCE success stories, Gricelda encouraged the graduates to earn their college degrees and also involve their significant others in their educational journey like she did, by completing along with her husband the healthy marriage program at AVANCE. “We learned to praise and value each other even more, and he absolutely supports my educational goals” she said.

Throughout the course, all graduates were provided with additional resources such as: college-credit enrollment training, child development certificate training, job readiness, parent-coaching academy, college fieldtrips, online tutoring, scholarship opportunities, and a mentor that worked one-on-one with them. Through a partnership with HCC, AVANCE revamped its GED curriculum last year by adding this new features that formed “GED on the Move” which fully-prepares students to transition to college.

Most recently recognized by HEB’s Excellence Awards on the premise that parents are their children’s first and most important teachers, AVANCE offers early childhood education, Healthy Marriage, Fatherhood, Parenting, ESL, Computer Training, GED, and its signature Parent-Child education program. 


John LaGrone-GED instructor (center), GED graduates, Jose Villarreal-Executive Director


Crystal Peña receives certificate and shakes hand with AVANCE board member Donna Wheeler,
in background board members Tanya Allen and Martha Rost)

Milvia Alecio, proud GED program graduate


Media coverage: Houston Banner June 2012