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Tigard man gets his diploma 20 years later

The GED ceremony at PCC Sylvania was a long time coming for many of the students at Saturday's graduation, but for Tigard's Bryan Sebourn it was an anniversary 20 years in the making.

Sebourn received his general education diploma from PCC on June 4, the 20th anniversary of when he would have received his high school diploma.

'It was 20 years to the day, in 1991 that I would have graduated,' he said. 'PCC has been a great support for me, they helped me get what I wanted and just backed me up 100 percent. I've never had that before with other schools.'

Originally from Santa Cruz, Calif., Sebourn worked as a medical care provider in Oregon for many years, but without certification or a high school diploma, he couldn't get very far in his field, he said.

'So I decided to quit my job and do school full time,' he said.

Now two years later, Sebourn's GED is the first step on becoming a certified phlebotomist - someone trained to draw blood.

Now with his GED, Sebourn plans to take additional classes this summer and fall, to work toward his certification.

'I've worked in the medical field my whole life as a care provider,' he said. 'Now I'll be able to work my way up professionally.'

With educational disabilities, Sebourn said he had trouble in high school.

'I've been a special ed student my whole life,' Sebourn said. 'One of the reasons why I dropped out was because I didn't get the one-on-one attention that I needed. It was easier to drop out and work than fight the system.'

If he had gotten the attention he needed, he said, he would have stuck with it.

'When I was in school they didn't have that level of support,' he said. 'We had special classes but I was still one person out of 30. It wasn't the same.'

As he grew older, though, Sebourn said he regretted the decision to drop out.

'Now I know I needed to graduate,' he said. 'So I wouldn't be stuck in the same-old, dead-end stuff.'

Nearly 170 students received their GEDs on Saturday.

PCC Sylvania's GED ceremony is one of the largest in the Portland area, boasting a 56 percent graduation rate. The average GED graduate rate nationally is 15 percent.

'At PCC our instructors were able to individually work with us,' Sebourn said. 'Tutoring was really helpful for me.'