NYACCE Annual Student of the Year Nomination: Jermaine S. Cook
Jermaine Cook shares an all too common story growing up in Brooklyn. Jermaine unfortunately succumbed to the pressures of his environment which led him to drop out of high school by the time he reached the tenth grade. Without an actively supportive home life, both his brother and mother were involved with illicit drugs and criminal activity, Jermaine came to rely on his grandmother as a means of guidance in his life. During the course of his studies Jermaine’s brother would be imprisoned at New York’s infamous Riker’s Island and his grandmother would sadly pass away. Facing unseen levels of emotional stress and difficulties Jermaine persevered and took over responsibility for housing issues thatstem from his brother’s incarceration. He is vigorously trying to resolve these issues so that he can move forward with his educational goals, apply for college and continue his valiant efforts in furthering his education.
Jermaine first came to City Tech Adult Learning Center in 2015, but was ultimately referred to another program because we did not offer classes that were adequate for someone with his test levels. Jermaine, however, persevered. He followed our advice and joined the program we referred him to, doing his best to improve his academic skills. Once he overcame that feat he was able to join us this time as a full-fledged student in April 2016. He stuck with our program and buckled down on his studies until ultimately he passed the TASC exam in March of 2019.
Jermaine first took the TASC exam in April of 2017 after being promoted from our lower level classes to an intermediate course. He was able to pass almost every subject with the exception being Math. Jermaine’s teacher, Davida Holmes, remembers him as being “distracted and unprepared” but something changed in him; evolving as a student, he became focused, and a motivator for others. Jermaine put all his efforts into math and realized that he needed to do work outside of class if he wanted to pass the math subtest; he began asking for more work from his teachers and watching YouTube videos. He became an agent of his own progress and eventually started making his own videos explaining math concepts he understood, which he uploaded onto the Facebook page he created to help others in math.
Over the course of those two years we would realize that Jermaine’s dedication and focus really helped drive him on his mission to overcome the Math portion of the exam. During the two years he stayed on to focus on Mathematics, he persevered in the face of adversity, criticism from peers, frustration with testing content, and even family pressure that would have made anyone buckle. But under such circumstances and scrutiny he never deterred from his goal. Persistence, determination, and the feeling that one “can’t give up” – to use Jermaine’s own words – is what got him to cross the finish line. At the beginning of his studies, he knew he wanted his High School Equivalency Diploma, but hadn’t thought far beyond that. By the end of his studies, he got his diploma and, within weeks, registered for a Security Guard training course – already a new goal in mind.
He is currently looking for employment as a security guard so he can establish a stable income before heading off to college. He is also involved with the Brooklyn Library’s Friends Group; a group designed to help neighborhood kids stay off the streets. He tutors students in the subject that once held him back, continuing to motivate others in the way he motivated so many of his classmates at the Adult Learning Center. Jermaine is an inspiration to all the students who come so close, yet feel so far from success; as he always said to those around him, “Never give up because great things take time.”