From GED to PhD

Justina MartinJustina Martin had dropped out of high school. She dreamed of being a teacher someday, and she knew she had to get back to school but wasn’t sure when or how.

One day she drove by the Woolley Center in Roseburg and saw a sign, “Earn your GED and get a free term of college at UCC!” She knew it was time to step back in and finish high school. Martin is now a teacher at the Woolley Center, helping other students step back in and earn their GEDs. She is also working on completing her Ph.D. in English, studying communication and online learning.

She recently spoke with the Woolley Center Director about her education and experience.

What was your experience like in the GED program? Any highlights?

My experience with the GED program was really great. The staff was super informative during orientation about the whole process. I was able to take classes in Tri- City, which was only about five minutes away from me. It's been a long time since I took the classes, so I don't remember my teacher’s name, but she was really enthusiastic about teaching, which made the experience more enjoyable. The staff scheduled all my tests for me and helped me to get in contact with registration and financial aid at UCC, so that the transition was seamless. The biggest highlight was having a graduation ceremony and being recognized for receiving honors-level scores on my tests. When I dropped out of high school, I didn't think I would ever get the chance to walk across the stage or have the experience of graduating.


What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about earning their GED?

The biggest piece of advice I can give to someone thinking about getting their GED is to just do it. It is never too late to get an education. The second piece of advice I can give is to own your education. Instructors and staff can only guide you so far, but you must really want it and put in the work. You'll be surprised at how much you can actually accomplish when you take control and make getting your GED a priority.


What is next for you?

I am getting ready to write my dissertation (a requirement for earning a Ph.D.). My plans are to continue teaching adult basic education at UCC. I am able to use my experience being a GED student and my education to help others achieve their academic and career goals. My unconventional education journey has continued to drive me to keep doing this job and working with adult learners. My hope for the future of the Woolley Center is that we can make education available and accessible to every community member who needs it in Douglas County.


For more information about the Adult Basic Skills program, visit or call 541-440-4603.

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