Finally a future

Edgar Montealegre may have quit a few times, but he never fully gave up on his learning.

On Tuesday night, he got his reward.

Montealegre, 42, of Marshalltown, was one of more than 30 GED graduates of the Iowa Valley Education and Training Center honored at the Orpheum Theater.

Montealegre moved to Los Angeles from Guatemala in 1988 and he said it was a very dangerous time in his home country. Seeking a better life for his wife Carmen and their five children, the family settled in Marshalltown in 2004.

The path to his GED, or high school diploma equivalency, was not always easy. Because he lacked a full understanding the English language, Montealegre said he thought he was just not smart enough to pass the GED test.

A back injury that prevented him from doing physical labor eventually led him back through the doors at the Education and Training Center.

Assistance from the staff at the ETC and encouragement from his family led to his accomplishment Tuesday night.

“They helped me change the way I think,” Montealegre said. “Now, I’m very positive I can do stuff.”

He also credits the United States in general for having people willing to help others.

“This country has a lot of opportunities,” Montealegre said. “Plus, the people are trying to help us.”

Iowa Valley ETC instructor Guadalupe Jimenez was proud of how Montealegre came back to the center after he quit a couple of times and continued to work to get his GED.

“It’s always something good for their lives,” Jimenez said. “And if they want to do it, they can do it.”

Montealegre doesn’t want to stop with his GED. He plans to attend Marshalltown Community College this fall and study accounting.

“I can’t” is no longer in the vocabulary for this future college student.

“It’s going to be hard, but I’m thinking I can do it,” he said. “I feel excited.”