Receiving a high school diploma is more than just an accomplishment, it is a reward for hard work and a key to opportunities. You do not realize how important it is until you get older. At 65 years old, Larry McClaurin put in the hard work and can finally be finished with what he started so long ago.
Larry has been a resident of Edwin Towers for eight years. He heard about the Charlotte Housing Authority (CHA) from Urban Ministries while living at the local Men’s Shelter. After moving into Edwin Towers, life for Larry started turning for the better. Becoming more independent, Larry was even able to get a car. Larry having his own car allowed him to help other residents, by taking them to the store and to doctor’s visits.
Elderly Service Coordinator Diane Smith noticed his willingness to help and asked him if he would like to be a Van Driver for CHA? Excited about the opportunity, Larry applied but did not get the position because he did not have a high school diploma or General Education Diploma (GED). He never thought that dropping out in 1972 would affect him at this stage in his life. Diane saw this as an opportunity to help Larry finish what he started. Having tried to go back in the past, but feeling that it was too hard, Larry was nervous about pursuing his GED. However, Diane knew he would succeed because he would not go through the process alone, she would be there to help him.
Larry went to Central Piedmont to register for the GED program. Taking the placement test, he realized it was going to be a long journey, but he was ready. Testing low in Math and Reading, Larry had to raise his score in both to begin the program He worked hard taking the exam repeatedly for almost two years. His hard work paid off because he raised his score high enough to enter the GED program. In order to get his GED, Larry needed 12 credits of class. Larry had four levels of math to get through and he knew it was going to be a challenge, but he was not alone. “Math 1 was easy, Math 2 ok, Math 3 was hard and Math 4 was very difficult, but they do an awfully good job helping you, certain things I wouldn’t understand they would sit me down and teach me it until I understood it,” said Larry gratefully. Diane’s daughter Vanessa was in college at the time and she would go over Larry’s Math work with him when she stopped by to visit her mom. Never giving up he made it through all his Math courses. Then he could focus on taking other courses one by one. Eventually, getting an education actually became fun for Larry.
Larry earned his GED in 2017, all his hard work paid off. His drive despite setbacks were incredible. And nothing could get in the way of his goal. After tasting success, Larry is planning to pursue his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in September. “When I speak to my friends that are not doing so well, I always encourage them and let them know there are programs out here that will help you, it’s on you when you want to start really living.” He plans on living and working until he feels it’s time for himself to stop. CHA could not be happier for Larry pushing through and not letting anything stop him from succeeding.