When Victoria Forbis left her job as an assistant seafood manager at a local grocery store in 2009, she didn’t know what to do next. She had plenty of work experience—including nearly 10 years at the grocery store—but it quickly became clear that her lack of a high school diploma would hold her back from the kind of work she wanted.
“I’d left school in seventh grade,” Forbis said. “I realized that the way things are these days, you need the education to get a job. I have the life experience and the work experience, but I needed the secondary education.”
So Forbis went to Lewiston Adult Education to start working on her GED. It took her just five months of taking classes and studying to pass the GED tests. She graduated with the class of 2010. Impressed with her academic abilities and work ethic, GED instructor Mary McNulty encouraged Forbis to start thinking about college, and take Lewiston Adult Education’s College Transition Program (CTP).
“I listened to everything Mary said,” said Forbis. “Yes, I give myself some of the credit for doing so well, but I have to give her credit too. She was awesome. She recommended the CTP. I probably wouldn’t have done so well in college if I hadn’t done that.”
And Forbis has done well in college. She was accepted to Central Maine Community College in Auburn: in her first semester, she earned President’s Honors with her 3.91 GPA.
“The CTP is a great program,” Forbis said. “I’d suggest everyone do that program before going to college. It’s free—why wouldn’t you do it? It helped me pass my placement tests to get into college. I had help applying for financial aid. The study skills we learned provided a great stepping stone; you have to be extremely organized in college.
“The math review helped, too,” she said. “And the research paper—it was good to know how to format and write a paper before having to do it for the first time in a college class. It’s just an overall good idea to take the CTP.”
Once in college, Forbis was able to take advantage of the many supports offered by CMCC, especially the TRiO Success Center. She also found her fellow classmates to be a valuable support network. “Every student has something to bring,” she said. “We help each other out. Nowadays you see a lot more adults going to college because of all the layoffs. That makes me feel like I’m not just in a class with a bunch of 18-year-olds.”
The biggest challenge for Forbis? “Definitely juggling family and schoolwork!” she said. “There are times you’ll have to say no to your family, and they might be disappointed you can’t do something. But you have to make school your priority. I never miss classes. I always stay the whole time. They go through a whole lot of material in a short amount of time. But in the end, furthering your education will only benefit you and your family.”
Though trying to balance family and college is difficult, Forbis has noticed a positive impact on her family. “My daughter is 12, and the really good thing about doing all this is that it’s setting a great example for her,” Forbis said. “In the big picture, she’s seeing my studying and thinking this is wonderful. She sees me and is thinking now that she wants to go to college. She’s great at math. The coolest thing about me doing all this is her attitude towards it.”
Forbis continues to study as a full-time CMCC student. She’s currently working on fulfilling her general requirements, and then she plans to start nursing courses. After graduation, she intends to look for a job as a Registered Nurse.
To Forbis, furthering her education is about more than just qualifying for a better job. When asked what advice she had for other adults who are thinking about continuing their education, she said, “Definitely, go back to school! Because it’s worth it all the way around, it will help you in life no matter what,” she said.
“I never realized how important education was,” Forbis said. “You need it for yourself; it’s not just about finding a job in a bad economy. You’re cheating yourself out of things in life if you don’t have an education.”
For more information on continuing education opportunities through Lewiston Adult Education, visit www.lewistonadulted.org or call 795-4141.