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Champions of Adult Education

From Extraordinary Story to Champions for Our Cause.


Story Musgrave Joins Educate & Elevate as Campaign Advocate

The Educate & Elevate Campaign is leading the charge to raise awareness about the many faces and relevance of adult education. Federal budget proposals for 2018 suggest a cut of $95 million to adult education programs, including literacy courses, as part of a larger $9 billion cut to the Department of Education budget.
To help safeguard these vital programs, the Educate & Elevate Campaign is a national endeavor aimed at highlighting how an investment in adult education represents a bold commitment to America’s future. A big part of the campaign is to highlight success stories and the many surprising faces of adult learners who are advocates for adult education.
Story Musgrave is one such example who is an advocate for the campaign. Mr. Musgrave has an amazing story in that he never finished school, but instead ran off to Korea with the U.S. Marines where he was an aircraft electrician and an engine mechanic. He started flying with the Marines and over the next 55 years accumulated 18,000 hours in more than 160 aircraft. 
Using adult education as a catalyst for change, Mr. Musgrave obtained a GED® diploma and went on to become the only astronaut to have flown in all five space shuttles resulting in six space flights. He has earned seven graduate degrees and 20 honorary doctorate degrees.
“Funding for adult education is critical to our nation’s success,” said Musgrave. “We must include everyone in helping them to achieve their educational goals, and we need to prepare them for life, for a career, and for college no matter where they are in their educational journey.” 

In the coming weeks, expect to hear more stories from leaders like Musgrave about the value of adult education as Educate & Elevate seeks to advocate for this vital resource. If you have an extraordinary example of someone who has used adult education as a catalyst, resulting in exceptional success, contact us at

Dr. Rachel De Vaughan – From GED to Ph.D.

For Educate & Elevate advocate Rachel De Vaughan, Ph.D., the power of adult education in reshaping one’s career path is well known. Indeed, without support from educators at Mississippi Gulf Community College, she may have never made the transition from a respected McDonald’s franchise manager, with no high school diploma, to a state education director with a higher-education-focused Ph.D. from William Carey University.

De Vaughan recalls how bleak her future looked in her teenage years as family financial hardships made it difficult to focus on her academic studies.
“At a very young age, I was burdened with heavy responsibilities in caring for my younger siblings. I struggled in school because I was so tired I just wanted to sleep. My teachers were always frustrated with me because I never completed my homework,” De Vaughan says. 
“Even if I did find a friend, we weren’t able to do the normal things that friends do because I could never afford to go anywhere when I was invited. So, when my mom gave me the choice of quitting school to work full-time, I chose to quit. No longer did I have to worry about what I was going to wear or sit through another Algebra class that I had failed twice. I started working at McDonald’s for $3.35 per hour and took advantage of every education and workforce program they offered while never looking back,” she adds.
But her career in food service took a big detour in 1997 when a life-changing event inspired her to achieve education goals that had long gone unfulfilled. She obtained her high school diploma and put herself on an educational path that resulted in an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and a successful and ongoing career stint in public education that has included the obtainment of a Ph.D.
“After almost 20 years working for McDonald’s restaurants throughout the U.S., and even abroad, I was ready to try something different for my life. So, I pulled that forgotten dream out of that secret place deep inside of me, and I applied for a teacher’s license. Wow! Here I was, teaching in a school, a real school, with real students. I was recognized both by my school and the district as a great educator several times,” says De Vaughan, now assistant state director for the Office of Adult Education in Mississippi.

Adult Education Miracle: Kevin Hunt Sr.

As adult educators, we know firsthand that a lack of education can have a ripple effect among individuals who want to advance their economic and social mobility. Kevin Hunt Sr. knows that downward spiral all too well. Kevin dropped out of school in junior high, and because of his lack of education, he had to rely on his family in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, for financial support.
In 2001, he made a decision that would be the catalyst for changing his entire life: he enrolled in Shorter College’s GED® program. After earning his GED® credential, Kevin did not stop there. In 2002, he enrolled in Philander Smith College where he graduated with honors and followed that with a master’s degree from Webster University.
Upon graduating from Philander Smith College, Kevin volunteered for then-Attorney General Mike Beebe’s campaign for governor. This eventually led to a part-time job working for Beebe’s campaign. Beebe won the gubernatorial election (2006), and Kevin was hired on as full-time staff. During the next eight years in the office of Governor Mike Beebe, Kevin worked as a communications assistant, spending five of those years as minority affairs liaison.
Kevin invests countless hours of hard work and dedication for the betterment of his community by serving as a mentor to others and volunteering for friend and mentor, Rev. Hezekiah Stewart and the Watershed (“world’s first social hospital”). Currently, Kevin is focused on launching his nonprofit mentoring program, Inspiring Other People (IOP), which has as its motto “Leading by Example.”
A man of God, Kevin joined Second Baptist Church in 2005, under the leadership of the Pastor, Dr. Kevin A. Kelly. Kevin works at the University of Arkansas for the Center on Community Philanthropy at the Clinton School of Public Service, which focuses on community-based philanthropy. He is the son of a very strong mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. He is also the proud father of one son, Kevin Hunt Jr. He’s married to the number one woman in his life, Maggie F. Hunt.
Thank you, Kevin, for sharing your story and inspiring others to keep reaching for the stars!

Neda Anasseri: Coordinator, Technology Projects

Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN)

Neda AnasseriNeda is an adult education student and graduate – obtaining her High School Equivalency in 2001. As most adult education students Neda had many barriers and overcame them through raising her daughter, education, and perseverance. She entered adult education 10 years ago as a data and accountability program manager, obtained her teaching credential and moved into the classroom, later went into administration and management. Education technology was always her passion and she is always ready to learn the newest and best way to teach her students and staff. She is now the Coordinator of Technology Projects where she practices her passion and background by training the adult education field in education technology tools, resources, integration and leadership strategies, learning platforms, and more!   

Joseph J. Perez – U.S. Department of Education

Joseph J PerezJoseph J. Perez was raised in an inner New York city poverty-stricken home with a hard-working single parent. Joseph’s biggest dream growing up was to become a garbage man. School was an experience of overcrowded classrooms, overwhelmed teachers, metal detectors and violence. School was not a place of learning; it was a time of his life to just get through and survive. His school day routine was simple. Find a way to avoid going to school or get to and back from school as quickly as he could without getting into a fight. As a result, he completely dropped out of high school.
Things began to change for Joseph when he moved to a small New Jersey town. The new school he attended became a safe place to learn and grow. He was also adopted by a family that provided structure and set high expectations. Joseph excelled in this new environment. His grades improved, he participated in sports, music, theater and volunteered in his community. The new school he attended provided him with an excellent guidance counselor who set him up with supplemental education that included tutoring, summer classes and enrollment in a workforce preparation program. Joseph’s hard work earned him extra credit, work experience and a high school diploma. He was also encouraged to take the SAT entrance exam and apply for college, to which he was accepted.

Joseph’s time at college was filled with wonderful experiences and hard work. It placed him on a solid career path where he worked three internships, earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science and was the baccalaureate speaker at his college graduation. The guidance, excellent education and the workforce preparation that Joseph received helped him break the cycle of low expectations growing up and allowed him to not only become the first in his family to graduate from college but to dare to have bigger dreams.

Since graduating from college, Joseph has dedicated his life to public service by working at the U.S. House of Representatives, the White House and currently, the U.S. Department of Education. He works on issues related to career, technical and adult education and leads by example his strong advocacy of the very institution that he dropped out of in his youth, education.  

Hector Martinez – Director for Adult Education at Kansas Board of Regents

Joseph J PerezDaydreaming about taking a “trip to the mountains in a white truck” in the land of opportunity, Hector Martinez and his wife moved to the United States with their four young children in 1999. Arriving in Houston and sleeping in a family member’s kitchen, Hector searched for work. Despite speaking little English, he found employment selling air conditioners door-to-door, earning just enough for rent and groceries every month. He also worked in a restaurant which allowed him to bring home extra meals but did not provide financial stability.

In December 1999, the family moved to Kansas where they lived in a 4 by 5 foot room for the six of them. Hector found a decent paying job at a meat packaging plant. Hector joined the Learning Center as a student of English as a Second Language and began volunteering as a computer instructor, working a hectic schedule that included three classes, 9-12, 3-5, and 6-9, and working the graveyard shift at the plant.

Hector received his professional visa in 2001 and began working as a computer coordinator at the ESL school. The family moved into their own home in 2002, a milestone on their pursuit to financial stability. They celebrated by taking their dream vacation, driving to Colorado in their white Expedition truck.

While applying for permanent residency status, Hector was promoted in 2006 to Director of the Adult Education Center, serving as District representative and president of the Kansas State Adult Education Association. He joined the Coalition on Adult Basic Education and served as representative for seven states and chaired the Technology and Conference committees, and has since gone on to rise to the highest ranks of adult education in his state, as the State Director of Kansas.

In 2012, Hector and his family were granted permanent residency, enabling his son to apply for financial aid at the university and his wife to work. Today, Hector and his family have all become American citizens, and his four children have graduated college and become professionals—an architect, family therapist, computer engineer, and physics engineer. His wife recently completed her teaching degree, Hector joined the Kansas Board of Regents in 2021.

Teachers, Administrators, and Friends of Adult Ed: Send an Email Supporting Adult Education
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