FREMONT - Tiffin resident Angela Laugherty completed requirements for a General Educational Development diploma a couple of months after starting the process.
She received paper proof of the accomplishment, but didn't receive the actual certificate until Thursday evening.
"This means everything. ... It's priceless. Education is priceless," she said immediately after the GED graduation ceremony at Terra State Community College Thursday.
Laugherty would have graduated from Columbian High School in the 1990s but got married at a young age, dropped out and started a family. Now, her daughters are students at Columbian.
She started working to obtain her GED diploma last year after having made a full recovery after a surgery in 2005 left her in a coma.
Laugherty participated in Vanguard-Sentinel Adult Career & Technology Center's 18th annual GED graduation ceremony Thursday evening. About 125 people completed GED diplomas during the 2011-12 school year.
"Congratulations to our graduates," said Lynne Barth, Adult Basic & Literacy Education and GED coordinator. "This is a wonderful accomplishment to celebrate with your family and friends."
Graduate Barb Chapman, who offered the keynote address, encountered health problems while obtaining her GED diploma but returned to class. She recalled deciding to obtain it 30 years after high school, but the cycle of returning and stopping continued for about five years.
"I knew it was time for me to take the next step," she said. "Getting my GED was a struggle."
Chapman said once she passed the test, she knew she had to keep going. She is a first-year student at Terra.
She encouraged graduates to set high expectations for themselves.
"You have made it this far, so don't stop now. ... Stay focused. Never give up," she said.
Nancy Sattler, dean of liberal arts and public services at Terra, congratulated graduates and said they had proven their dedication and commitment to their education by attending Thursday's program. They created a set of circumstances on their own and manufactured their own opportunities, she said.
"I wish you the best," she said.