CLEVELAND -- Seven years and six attempts; that’s what it took for 57 year-old Margo Hudson of Cleveland to pass the exam to earn her GED.

Hudson, a Chicago native, dropped out of high school before the age of 16. She joined Job Corps to escape a troubled home.

“I didn't have a good childhood,” says Hudson. “There was a lot going on in the home … sexual abuse, mental, physical abuse and I was a victim of that. I just didn’t feel good about my life.”

Job Corps took Hudson to different cities through the years landing her in Cleveland in 1978.

“I was so happy they found me a job,” says Hudson. “I didn't think I needed a GED or high school diploma so I just went on about my life in various jobs.”


Her mindset changed in 2005 when she was working at Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

“I was cleaning planes,” says Hudson. “You’re out there in the elements when it’s raining, snowing, really hot. They was only paying $7.25."

Unfortunately for Hudson, minimal wage jobs was all she could get. Research shows an adult without a high school diploma earns 42% less than adults with a diploma.

"As I was getting older I said I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my life,” says Hudson. "I need to get my life together."

At 45 years-old Hudson decided to commit herself to earning a GED. She turned to local non-profit Seeds of Literacy for help.

The organization provides free basic education and GED preparation to adults in the Cleveland area. According to Seeds of Literacy, over 110,000 adults in Cuyahoga County lack a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

After multiple failed attempts at passing the GED exam, Hudson was diagnosed with a learning disability qualifying her to receive accommodations during the test.

In 2012 at 52 years-old, Hudson earned her GED after taking the test for the sixth time.

“Taking a test six times that's pretty intense,” says Seeds of Literacy Development Officer Jo Steigerwald. “She was so persistent.”

The dedication and persistence Hudson showed in studying for the exam is the same drive she now shows as a tutor for Seeds of Literacy.

She volunteers at the west side location every week.

“She's been going day in and day out ever since she graduated so there's a real strong commitment there,” says Hudson’s husband Dale Hernlund.


Hudson’s commitment to adult literacy has made 2016 her year of honor. In April, Hudson received the Courage Award from Governor John Kasich during his State of the State Address.

The commission on Adult Basic Education named Hudson the 2016 Adult Learner of the year, an award she earned for overcoming difficult circumstances to pursue adult learning.

Hudson also took the political stage this summer during the Republican National Convention when she was chosen to lead delegates in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

“My life has changed completely,” says Hudson. "I wouldn't have thought in a million years that I would be doing something like that.”

Hudson says she’s a living witness that dreams do come true. She beams with pride at the thought of finally being able to check the box on job applications indicating that she has a high school diploma or GED.