Angie Matthiessen

Angie Matthiessen

In rehearsing a pivotal scene for a Shakespearean play, I imagine every director has had their patience tested by a pretentious actor asking, “What’s my motivation?”

The great benefit of living through a script is that you can take your life, and your motivation, one scene at a time. Reality is far from this straight-forward, however. Motivations can sometimes be conflicting and most of us do not have a director guiding us line by line along the way.

In my teenage years, it was my stepfather who affirmed for me that I could do anything I wanted to, as long as I applied myself. I had to define my own motivation, but he encouraged me to always take that extra step. With his insistence that education was a must, I went on to achieve my educational goals.

Sometimes life can get in the way and immediate needs can take precedence over long-term educational goals. A young man desperate to escape a bad home situation might decide to take on a full-time job to support himself and put high school on the back burner. A young woman who has a child earlier than planned may feel that foregoing an education to put her new baby first is the only option. As they say, the show must go on.

Dr. Renee Burwell, lead instructor for the Adult Career Center, knows these stories all too well. Students come to her looking for help in passing the GED test to receive their General Education Diploma. They have a motivation for advancing their education as a step toward something greater.

“It is definitely a pathway for an individual to better themselves,” Burwell said. “We’ve had several students that completed the GED and went on to Charlotte Technical College and completed their nursing program.”


There is no spotlight shining on the students who use the Adult Career Center to advance their knowledge and prepare themselves to pass the GED test, but there is a director of sorts guiding them along the way.

“Some of them need that extra push,” Burwell said. She and other teachers provide guidance and support for students as they follow a self-paced curriculum. While none of them ask “What’s my motivation?” the question remains. “We have to find a way to instill in the student their own self-motivating factors,” she said.

Fortunately, for students who are motivated, teachers can help guide them through learning the material to successfully pass each of the four areas: reading/language arts, math, social studies and science. Scholarships are available for eligible students to ease any financial burden. These scholarships are funded by a United Way of Charlotte County grant from the Charlotte County Commission and cover a student’s registration, cost of taking each of the four GED Ready tests and actual GED test.

Burwell is excited to bring new students to the center stage. As the director of this performance, she said, “We’re here. We are happy to assist you in meeting your goals. Give us a call; stop on in.”

If you are ready to audition for the next big role in your education, reach out to the Adult Career Center by calling 941-255-7555 or you can stop by the Port Charlotte Town Center mall location to learn more.

For more information, please call the United Way of Charlotte County at 941-627-3539. Mission: Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty. Angie Matthiessen is the executive director of United Way of Charlotte County. She can be reached at director@unitedwayccfl.org.

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