Making a Difference: Rebecca & Bob Harrison

All in the Family

Every adult who goes back to school has a story of sacrifice — each is different, and deeply personal. Yet you’ll often find that behind them are family members who are ready to make sacrifices of their own to help those they love achieve their educational goals.

That’s the story of Rebecca Harrison — a young woman who dreamed for a better life for herself and her children — and her dad, Bob, a man who so loves his daughter that he hit the books 30 years after leaving high school.

“I knew Becky wanted to start college and I knew about the Marshall County Adult Learning Center and we started talking about it,” said Bob.

Rebecca & Bob Harrison

“I didn’t have my GED or high school diploma, and I thought it would be better if we did it together. And so I told her: We’ll start together, we’ll train together, and we’ll finish together. And we did.”

With the help of KET’s FastForward adult education learning system, the two Benton residents embarked on a journey that led Rebecca to enroll in college this fall, and enabled Bob to keep his promise to his own mom that he would get his GED® credential.

Rebecca, 21, left high school when she was just 16. A good student in middle school, she became distracted in high school and discouraged when she had trouble navigating the social scene. When she became pregnant, she dropped out.

But furthering her education was never far from her mind. She began planning for college, but when she searched for her transcript online from the service she’d used four years earlier, she learned it had been a scam, and she didn’t have her high-school equivalency after all.

“I called Dad and I was pretty upset that day, about having to do it all over again,” Rebecca recalled. “But Dad just said, ‘Let’s do it together.’”

The Harrisons relied on the ongoing support of the Marshall County learning center. Jillian Henson, the director, knew KET’s FastForward would be perfect for the pair, who had busy schedules and would do well with its self-paced lesson plans. Both Harrisons embraced it.

“It was really easy to use and definitely easy to get used to. I like how everything was separated into what areas you need to work in,” Rebecca said.

“And I really preferred it being online. That way, since I work all day, I could have dinner and put the kids to bed then sit down at the computer. And if I had any trouble, I’d just call Dad!”

“FastForward broke everything down in a very uniform way so that I could understand it. It took me through step by step, and if I needed to, I could always go back and re-read it,” Bob agreed.

“For me that was a big plus. It wasn’t just, ‘here’s a book, do it.’ It was very pleasing to use. It prepared me very well for what I needed to know.”

“I’m so glad we used FastForward, because without it I don’t know if I could have passed those tests!” Rebecca laughed.

And in August, Rebecca’s dream came true. She began class at West Kentucky Community College, where she’s interested in pursuing radiology or another health-related career. She’s excited to one day soon have a more stable life for herself and her two children, Bentley, 6, and Kaydence, 3.

“I wanted to be something more important, for them, something I’d have a career in and I’m not jumping around from job to job,” she noted.

Bob, along with his wife, Annette, a college graduate, echo their daughter’s goals.

“I wanted her to get into something she wants to do and that she enjoys. It doesn’t matter what it is — she picked radiology, and that’s great,” said Bob.

“But I want her to have a secure life and a good job. For me it’s important that she’s proud of herself — and I’m proud to be a part of what she’s doing. We had fun doing it, and we did exactly what we set out to do.”

And the promise Bob made to his mother in 1981?

“When I graduated, I said, ‘this is for you, Mom,’” he said. “All my life, it was always in the back of my mind — and Becky gave me the reason to do it.”

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