Grandmother Earns High School Diploma Through RCGC’s Adult Basic Education Program

Photo courtesy of Rowan College at Gloucester County.

DEPTFORD, N.J. – After more than two decades, persistence and perseverance have paid off for Joyce Clements, who on May 15th was one of the 13 adults dressed in caps and gowns to receive her long-awaited high school diploma, during Rowan College at Gloucester County’s (RCGC) Adult High School Recognition Ceremony.

Clements, of Somerdale, began her studies at Gloucester County College (now RCGC) when she was in her 40s, after being diagnosed with dyslexia and unable to read, write or do math. As a high school student in Philadelphia, she left the classroom at age 16 to attend trade school, later working in nursing homes and as a housekeeper throughout most of her adult life. When her son was in the fifth grade, a teacher discovered that Clements was unable to read and suggested that she visit her local public library for tutoring help. Once a week, Clements studied at the library before enrolling in the College’s Adult Basic Education program.

“It was extremely difficult. It was a while before they found out I had a learning disability, and then it took several years to learn to read,” said Clements. “I learned here. I love school. I didn’t mind staying here.”

Over the years, medical problems including cancer and a knee replacement, caused Clements to have a series of stops and starts as she pursued her high school diploma. Then, as she neared the end of her goal, the high school equivalency test requirements changed, further delaying her quest. Determined, Clements pressed on, her persistence serving as an example.

“So many people are ashamed. There is no reason to be ashamed. I would be ashamed if I didn’t do anything about it,” said Clements, who plans to enroll part time at RCGC in the fall. This time, her objective is to become a nurse. “I’m proud to be where I am today and I’m going to work hard to be in the college program.” 

Cheered on by her father, sisters, brother and grandchildren, Clements received her high school diploma, marking the completion of a 20-year journey.

“I felt so proud of myself. I couldn’t believe it,” said the smiling grandmother.

RCGC’s High School Equivalency program provides adults with the opportunity to obtain a high school diploma issued by the State of New Jersey Department of Education. Students participate in reading, writing, math, social studies, science, work readiness and basic computer literacy classes. After successfully completing the program, students are prepared to take the HiSET or TASC assessment to earn a diploma.

For more information about RCGC’s Adult Education programs, visit

Rowan College at Gloucester County’s 250-acre campus is located on Tanyard Road in Deptford, just off Exit 56 off of Route 55.