New Year, New Hope

Bobby Hinson with his “Big Machine” at the East Central College campus

Bobby Hinson was an eighth-grade dropout. The father of four works for the Missouri Department of Transportation as a maintenance worker. While Hinson enjoys his job, he wanted more. Unfortunately, he knew any promotion was out of reach without more education. That’s when he decided to get his High School Equivalency (HSE) by taking classes through East Central College. Through his classes at ECC, volunteers from the East Central Area Literacy Council work with instructors to provide support to students in the classroom while they prepare for the HSE test.

“I didn’t want my younger kids growing up thinking it’s okay to give up,” he explained. “I decided it was time to do something about it.” He admits he was scared to start the process, but the staff soon put him at ease. Hinson says he tried to get his GED back in the late 90’s through a different program, but he didn’t have much success.

“The program wasn’t focused on the teacher-student relationship,” he explained. “They handed you a book and you were on your own.” With the new program, Hinson worked one-on-one with instructors and volunteers, receiving custom instruction and constant guidance. “It was a good surprise,” he said. “It’s not what I was expecting.”

Hinson was a model student. It didn’t take long for him to make it to the finish line. Hinson passed the final test with flying colors.

“The night after taking the last test, my wife had balloons and a cake waiting for me when I got home. We went out to dinner to celebrate,” he said. “My kids were ecstatic about it!”

He had even more to celebrate when he went back to work — he received a promotion! While he says he’s proud of his accomplishments so far, he knows there is more to come. “I don’t want to stop with just my HSE,” he said. “I want to keep pushing forward. I want to get a college degree.

The classes are free to everyone at several class locations in Phelps, Franklin, Gasconade, Crawford and Montgomery Counties with morning and evening sessions. To learn more about obtaining your High School Equivalency, visit or call 636-584-6533.

Students who have earned a high school equivalency diploma (HiSET) through the AEL program at East Central College are eligible to receive a tuition waiver for a three (3) hour college credit class at East Central College. In order for a student to qualify for the incentive, a student must have completed the HiSET program and/or exam with East Central College within twelve (12) months prior to enrollment and it must be his or her first time attending any college.


Executive Director, East Central Area Literacy Council Director, East Central College Adult Education and Literacy