Name: William Nichols
High School: Home Schooled
College (Current or Future): Georgia Northwestern Technical College
Major/Intended Major: Computer industry, possibly animation
Financial Aid Program: HOPE GED Grant
A disability didn’t stop William Nichols of Calhoun from achieving his dream of going to college.
“I was able to get a GED® diploma through Adult Education even with autism,” said Nichols. “I want to encourage others with disabilities to reach for the stars.”
Raised on a farm and home-schooled with a curriculum tailored for him, Nichols reached a sixth-grade academic level and thought, “that was as far as I would be able to go.”
However, Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) was ready to help. According to GNTC’s Amber Jordan, in 2017 the Office of Adult Education assisted more than 2,700 students towards continuing their postsecondary pursuits and 533 graduated with a GED Diploma like Nichols.
“Some days, I can’t think straight and my mind takes things and switches them around,” Nichols said. “But when I went to GNTC to get my GED, they set my mind at ease, encouraged me and provided me with additional tools to help.
“I was able to boost my confidence, meet other people (and) learn different methods to solve problems.”
After receiving his diploma, Nichols is using the HOPE GED Grant towards his career aspirations, either in animation or the computer industry.
“(William) has shown others that despite a disability you can accomplish anything,” said Melissa Blevins, lead teacher and site manager for Adult Education in Gordon County who nominated Nichols for the State EAGLE Award by the Technical College System of Georgia. “William will go far in life because he knows what he wants and he will do what needs to be done to accomplish his goals.”
Nichols’ goals are to have a home and family he can support on his own and he understands the importance of a college degree to achieve it.
“It was hard for me to get my GED and go to college, but the results are forever beneficial,” said Nichols. “I may have bigger mountains to climb in the future, but I can look back at this and smile, knowing I have this.
“If a life-changing storm happens and makes me change course, I now have one extra tool in my belt to help with the task at hand.”