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Free Cayce GED program helping hundreds turn their lives around

'They totally changed my life in the way I feel about myself,' Wanda Haskins, a 2018 GED program graduate, said.

CAYCE, S.C. — A free GED program on the west side of Columbia is helping hundreds of students get better jobs and helping them turn their lives around.

"Pastor Kenneth Taylor saw a tremendous need in his community for young men in particular and young women to further their education, because a lot of them had not gone on through high school and they were having a hard time getting jobs," Francis Sandifer, the program director, said. 

"I went in, I was very nervous, being the past that I've tried this before, but people were very nice," 2018 GED graduate Wanda Haskins said.

Wanda Haskins is one of those students who has benefitted from the Scooter Scott Project GED program. 

"I just couldn't make it in high school because I wasn't passed through middle school, basically failing because of my father passing away and my mom being in the hospital at the same time," Haskins said.

She was at a fifth grade level for everything except reading and in a few short months, all of that changed.

"They totally changed my life in the way I feel about myself because I really didn't think I could do it as quickly as I did and that boosted my confidence a lot," Haskins said.

Tons of other students have similar stories to Wanda, but for many adults going back to school can be intimidating. 

Students in this program go at their own pace and are taught in a one-on-one setting.

"We look beyond them as just students. We also look if there's something going on in their life they need some help with, we do our best to try to help them as well," Sandifer said.

The program volunteers and directors try to help with transportation problems or health issues if they become a hindrance to finishing the GED program.

For the past 12 years, this GED program has been running on donation money and grants.

Before the pandemic, this free GED program had classes of up to 30 people with nearly 15 volunteers. Now they are down to classes of 10 with six volunteers. They are hoping they can move those numbers up very soon.

The class is taught every Saturday year-round from 8:30 a.m. until noon. They will not have class on Christmas day or New Year's day, so they will resume the session on Jan. 8, 2022.