Making a Difference: Steven Oney
Back in Focus
I just loafed around and mooched off my parents. I was pretending like I was done, but you can’t get out of life like you get out of school.
Steven Oney – GED Connection student
Steven Oney can’t remember how he discovered KET’s GED Connection program and the Tutoring and Learning Center on Morehead State University’s campus—but he will never forget the feeling when he walked inside.
“I was so amazed,” Oney recalled. “It was like a school environment but with the freedom to work at your own pace. There was always someone there to help you. I learned more there in two months than I did in middle school and high school put together.”
For Oney, middle and high school came with too much drama. He refused to go to middle school so his mother homeschooled him for about a year, but then he missed his friends. He decided to try again. The anxiety of returning, however, proved too much, and he dropped out again.
When it was time to enter high school, the principal recognized Oney’s intelligence and pulled some strings to get him in the right classes, so Oney returned to campus. However, he was irritable and always ready for a fight. He quit, then returned yet again. At 16, he finally quit for good.
“For the longest time, I just loafed around and mooched off my parents,” the soft-spoken young man admits. “I was pretending like I was done, but you can’t get out of life like you get out of school,” he says. He mowed yards and did odd jobs that didn’t require an education.
Then Oney’s father moved to Morehead, and Steven started visiting him from Magoffin County. One day he found himself at the MSU Learning Center.
“I didn’t know anything about any kind of programs,” he recalls. “I thought you had to have money to do anything.”
Fortunately, KET provided the tools—videos, workbooks, help online, even instructors—he needed to prepare for the GED® exam.
Though Oney utilized KET’s materials through the MSU Learning Center, students anywhere in Kentucky can study at home using KET’s resources. With a $50 enrollment fee, learners receive a pre-test, three GED® workbooks, a newsletter, practice tests, tutoring assistance, and a test-fee voucher for taking the GED® test, a $60 value.
Oney dove in, but then became distracted by holding down two part-time jobs. “I completely neglected my GED,” he confesses. “I never thought twice about it. I was making money. That was my goal.”
Quickly, though, Oney found plenty of motivation to earn his GED® credential.
Part came from work, at the Rowan County Public Library. Without a GED® credential, he feared that his job at the library — which he loved — might be in danger.
About the same time, Oney learned he was going to be a father.
“That was the realest feeling I have ever had,” Oney says. “I remember thinking ‘This is real. This is something I have to take care of. It’s not going to take care of itself.’”
And so he reappeared at the MSU Learning Center with renewed passion.
“I went in there and told them I wanted to take the TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) and GED pre-test. I passed. I was completely focused. I was thinking about the baby and my boss at the library.”
Oney even showed up to take the GED® exam in the midst of an ice storm. After two failed attempts at the math portion, he earned a 470, well beyond the 410 needed to pass.
He now works full time at the library and helps care for his daughter, Aliyha.
“I found out that when you really, really want something you will work hard to get it,” Oney said. “In high school, I was waiting for something to drop in my lap. It never did.”