Malik Curry was approaching the end of his two-year probationary sentence. He had worked hard to fulfill the terms set down by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas. Judge Thomas had also strongly encouraged Malik to obtain his GED to brighten his self-confidence and his prospects for success.
Malik appeared before Judge Thomas in early February for the final hearing. As part of his probationary requirements, he needed to pay $6,000 in restitution for his fraud-related offense. Malik had already paid half, and he was prepared to pay the other half at the hearing.
Judge Thomas asked Malik if he had completed his GED. Excitedly, Malik showed the judge his GED certificate that he had received a month before. Judge Thomas applauded and then congratulated Malik for his effort. She then surprised Malik and waived the remaining restitution that he owed, and she wished him well going forward toward higher goals.
“I didn’t expect that Judge Thomas would forgive the $3,000, but I’m very grateful that she did,” said Malik, who is 23 years old. “My life is evolving. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a biologist or aerospace engineer. Now that I have my GED, I’m definitely going to enroll in college and pursue my dream.”
Malik completed his GED through Southwest Solutions’ YouthBuild program. YouthBuild is a six-month program that teaches young people construction skills so they can prepare for careers in the building trades. Students earn work-related certifications. Those who enter the program without their high school diploma receive instruction and support so they can earn their GED.
Malik is part of the second YouthBuild cohort, which will graduate near the end of April. To date, five students in the first and second cohorts have acquired their GED, and another three are on the verge of completion, according to Kartav Patel, who manages the YouthBuild program.
Malik has made an enormous effort to participate in YouthBuild. He works full-time at an auto supplier. He also has a young daughter whom he sees on weekends.
“I’m very close with my daughter and I want to be a good role-model for her,” Malik said.
Like Malik, Delmar Pressley is in the second YouthBuild cohort and he, too, recently finished his GED through the program. Delmar is 18. He was home-schooled and has been anxious to get his GED since he was 16.
“Before YouthBuild, I was in a different GED program, but it didn’t work out for me,” Delmar said. “The YouthBuild class is structured well and the information is taught in a way that makes more sense to me.”
Delmar passed all four parts of the GED handily, and he received notice on February 16 that he was a GED graduate.
“I was excited and relieved,” Delmar said. “When I told my parents, they were actually more excited than I was! They’re happy that I’m getting closer and closer to my goal of becoming a carpenter.”
Delmar has wanted to be a carpenter ever since he saw one working in his home when he was a boy. He enjoys building things with his hands. After he completes the YouthBuild training, he intends to enter a carpentry apprenticeship or be placed in a construction-related job.
YouthBuild is available to Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck youth age 18 to 24 who are looking to earn their high school diploma or GED and a career path to skilled trades. To learn more about the program, contact Kartav at firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-733-1173.