Top 10 percent scholarship and art book award recipient aims for professional photography career

For 18-year-old Kailey Kirkley of Caseyville, earning a GED® certificate was the culmination of her home-school experience. The score she earned on the five exams making up the GED®, however, changed her college experience.

She participated in preparation classes offered through Adult Basic Education to make sure she was ready for the exams. Ready was an understatement. 

When all was said and done, Kirkley had passed all components of the exam in October 2013 and had accumulated an overall score that earned her a Top 10 Percent Scholarship to Southwestern Illinois College. The scholarship covers tuition and is awarded for up to six consecutive semesters, to a maximum 96 credit hours, at the college. 

Kirkley enrolled in credit classes in January rather than continue to look into art institutes. She is pursuing studies in photography in the hopes of being a commercial photographer one day. She plans to become a freelance photographer and travel the world.

If her award at this year's SWIC Student Art Show is any indication, she's well on her way. She won an Art Book Award for her photograph titled "Heavy Burdens."

Earning her GED® was definitely worth it, she said, adding she would encourage anyone who has been thinking about it to attend the classes and take the tests.

For more information about upcoming GED® preparation classes, visit or call 618-235-2700, ext. 5225.