Leonardo was awarded his GED diploma at a ceremony on April 23, 2024 at the Downey Adult School. His journey towards this accomplishment is truly remarkable as Leonardo suffered a stroke in August 2017, leaving most of his body paralyzed and unable to speak. He was no longer able to work, as his “new job” was to recover and heal. Over the next two years Leonardo worked on strengthening his mind and body with the help of the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. As he continued to heal, he realized he wanted to go back to school to get his GED.  At the end of 2019, he enrolled at Downey Adult School. There were many obstacles along the way including COVID and his rehabilitation.

Leonardo is best at telling his story: “I now am enrolling at Cerritos College to continue my education in computer technology. I knew that I could not let this opportunity pass. When I was younger, I chose not to finish school and start in construction, but I now believe continuing my education is the key to my success and will only create a stronger foundation for my future.”

Life is a journey, and sometimes the journey is not what you planned, or maybe you did not know what plan was needed. Some people may see the GED as just a piece of paper, but I know it has opened a door for me to go to Cerritos and eventually to a university. It has been a great honor to witness my fellow graduates work diligently, dedicating their time and efforts to school while also balancing life’s day-to-day obligations. For the times we may feel we are not good enough to accomplish good things in our lives, I can now say let the good times continue.”

Leonardo also wanted to thank the entire staff at the Downey Adult School and especially his program counselor, Robert Dame. The school has served the Downey community and surrounding areas for over 70 years. It offers a variety of courses to its diverse community, including 18 different Career Technical Education options. At Downey, the entire staff’s first priority is helping their learners reach their educational, career, and personal goals. Downey Adult School is actively collaborating with Cerritos College and its newly formed consortium, Partnership for Adult Academic and Career Education (PAACE), to further enhance its educational offerings and opportunities.