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ASPIRE Program Hosts Graduation

MARIETTA – The Aspire Adult Diploma program held its 2021-2022 graduation ceremony at the Washington County Career Center on Thursday night with friends and family in attendance.

“I’m proud of you guys, and everything that you’ve accomplished.” said Aspire Coordinator Ashli Diamond during the opening of the ceremony.

“Our graduates tonight will receive a scholarship for up to $1,000 to be applied to any of the programs that are offered here at the Career Center Adult Technical Training Center. We hope that can help with your education journey.” Diamond said.

The Aspire Adult Diploma program is for Ohio residents that are 20 years of age or older that do not have their high school diploma or equivalency. It provides job training and a pathway for students in the program to earn their high school diploma based on ACT WorkKeys scores. There are classes during the day, at night, and online to accommodate the needs of any of its students. All of the services are free.

This year’s graduation had the first husband and wife pair to complete the program together. MaKayla Johnson had been in and out of the program for three years when she got her husband Tobias Johnson into it.

“I was on and off.” MaKayla said. “I’d go to class for a few weeks and then slowly decline, and just stop. Then I got (Tobias) into it. Once he started, he didn’t stop.”

“I had my moments,” Tobias said. “We were both working full time jobs and we have four kids. So there was a lot.”

MaKayla was working seven days a week as a hospice aid and Tobias was working manual labor for a towing company when they started the program. They have four kids who are all under 4 years old.

“I found out we had the hours to take the test. So I took the test and when I completed my test I scheduled (MaKayla’s) test. She showed up the next day, took her test and passed, and we both signed up for classes.”

MaKayla has now gotten a job at The Arbors in Marietta and says she plans to continue her education as a medical assistant and eventually into nursing, and Tobias has plans to either continue his education into the mental health field, or into construction.

“Whatever is going to be more beneficial to my family.” Tobias said. “That’s ultimately what it’s about. I beat myself up for so long not having my high school diploma. Now I can set an example for all four kids.”

When asked about the difficulty of the program Tobias said the teachers are very knowledgeable, they make learning fun and enjoyable, and are always there to answer questions and help. Students work at their own pace, and after 20 hours, and when they feel comfortable with the material, they can take their test and start their trade classes.

“I feel like if I can do it, anybody can do it.” Tobias said.

For more information about the Aspire programs offered at the Career Center Adult Technical Training Center individuals can visit the website at or, or they can call 740-855-5990.

Douglass Huxley can be reached at

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