The Power of Literacy
“I was a tough kid,” says Hasan Davis. “Growing up in inner-city Atlanta in the 1970s and ’80s, I had to be. My teachers didn’t know what to do with me, so they just ignored me. The more they ignored me, the madder I got, and the anger just built on itself. After my 7th-grade year, I was put in an alternative school, which I was expelled from in my senior year before anyone discovered that I suffered from dyslexia and attention deficit disorder.
Receiving my GED was a crossroads for me. I was still struggling, but I really wanted to make it, and for the first time ever, I believed it was possible.
Hasan Davis – Youth advocate
“By that time, I had joined a street gang. When others looked at me, they saw a menace to society. I grew up angry and in conflict because I didn’t think there was a reason to be in school and learn. I thought it was all a setup.”
Today, Hasan Davis has a GED, a college degree, and a law degree. He travels the country with Empowerment Solutions—a company he founded in 1998 to help young people and adults find their voice, personal power, sense of self-respect, and dignity. And he uses his passion for theater to help others connect with historical African-American figures. He also helps others through his work on an array of boards and commissions.
The dramatic turnaround came, Davis says, when he earned his GED.
“Receiving my GED was a crossroads for me,” he says. “I was still struggling, but I really wanted to make it, and for the first time ever, I believed it was possible.
“When you have the ability to read and understand for yourself, you don’t have to trust others to give you good information. At the end of the day, the ability to read is power. It is a chance to make sure you do not accept anything less than what you are going for. It is the first really big step toward staging your own success.”
Helping people stage their own success is the focus of KET’s GED services. And KET uses the success stories of Davis and others like him to help motivate adults to persevere and earn their GEDs. Davis’ entire story is featured on KET’s LiteracyLink web site.
On a national level, KET’s Enterprise Division produces and distributes videos, workbooks, and online materials that are used in adult education programs throughout the country. Every public television station in the nation has now broadcast one or more versions of KET’s GED series. In fact, since KET produced its first televised GED series in the 1970s, more than a million people nationwide have used KET’s GED materials to prepare for the GED exam.
For Kentuckians, KET also has the statewide GED Connection Enrollment Program, which allows adults to prepare for a GED at home or gets them connected to an adult education center in their area. Each student is pre-tested by mail, then placed in the appropriate program. Students also receive frequent individualized follow-up from the program staff.
Since the statewide program began, some 25,500 Kentuckians have enrolled in KET’s GED program, more than 2,500 have enrolled in Basic Skills (a readiness program for GED), and 78,500 have been sent additional information and referrals to learning centers. After earning their GEDs, these graduates put an additional average of $63,750,000 annually into Kentucky’s economy, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Labor.
But those figures describe only part of the change.
“None of the big steps I have taken would have happened had I not gotten my GED,” Davis says. ”Education was the crossroads of my life. You have to make the world yours. Sometimes that means being creative. There were a whole lot of things I couldn’t do because of my disabilities, but there are a whole lot more that I can do because of my gifts and my education.”