Twenty people will cross the stage at the Morden Adult Education Centre (MAEC) graduation ceremony today. 

MAEC Director Todd Folkett described why Mary Funk is a great pick for this year's valedictorian. 

"Mary was dedicated to coming. She has children in the daycare she brings. So, lots of days, there's boots, mitts, toques, backpacks, lunches, all the things that go along with being a mom and still achieving at a high level in her academics. She is just one of those students, other students can look up to and can have conversations with. Mary is super accepting of everybody here. It was an easy choice. We were happy to see it was Mary." 

Funk is grateful for the second chance at receiving her mature high school diploma. 

"I didn't make school a priority when I was young. I did not care about school. I had better things to do, and now I had the opportunity to come back and open more doors for myself." 

She was inspired to go back after seeing a family member find success at MAEC. 

"I was supposed to originally graduate in 2010, and I didn't even think about going back to school until my sister graduated here too. After she graduated, she said, 'Honestly, if I can do it, anyone can.' So then, I decided in 2019 I would try it. And then, I ended up actually getting pregnant again. So based on circumstances, I dropped out again and now I came back this year and finally finished."  

She shared what this meant to her for her children to see her cross the stage. 

"It means a lot. I'm excited that they get to see me up there and I get to set that example for them. It means a lot." 

Funk said her class of 2023 is a kind and dedicated class. Folkett echoed this statement.  

"They're very dedicated. What I love is, they came with a smile on their face, even though there were days when they had obstacles and barriers in front them. Each and every day, they always came and gave their best effort. They were a tight group too, with lots of dynamics where people would share and it felt like it was a relaxed environment, which is awesome to teach in and for people to learn. I think that's key for our mature students." 

Folkett encouraged anyone considering going back to get their mature diploma to do it. 

"Morden Adult Ed is a place that may seem intimidating at first to come back to, but I think once everybody comes through the door and sees the smiling faces, within an hour, everybody wishes they maybe had come earlier. People have said lots of great things about the Morden Adult Ed Centre. I think that's the main point, we're a place that isn't intimidating and it's a chance for people to come and upgrade some marks or get that mature diploma."