CUMBERLAND, Md. (WDVM) — “Getting an education made me feel like… I am good enough, and I am a good worker, and I deserve to go and get an education if I really want it,” said Sam Vega, a graduate from Allegany College of Maryland’s Adult Education Progam.

Vega was one of many adults in the United States who had not completed high school. According to a release from ACM, over 22 million adults do not have a diploma.

ACM is furthering their support for adults like Vega via their new collaboration with the Moving Ahead campaign. This collaboration focuses on career paths and preparing these students for the workplace or higher education.

“Adult education is transformational. Individuals that participate in our program have significant barriers in their lives,” said Melanie Chapman, Director of Adult Education at ACM.

Chapman said that the Adult Education Program aims to close a “skills gap” in Americans.

“We put all this emphasis on college and being college-ready, yet there’s this group of individuals that… didn’t have a lot of direction,” she stated.

Vega said that the support from ACM helped her find her path even in her mid-20’s.

“If it wasn’t for that, I’m not sure I would have been convinced about going to college,” she said. “We need (education). We all need it to better ourselves.”

Vega is now a full-time student at Frostburg State University and a family support worker. She said she would not have been able to make these steps without the resources provided by ACM.

“Now I have two little nieces, so I want them to see that as women, they’re just as powerful and that they can do whatever they want, and I want them to do well in this world, too,” she said.

ACM’s new collaboration will utilize both in-person and online instruction, the release said. This program includes classes covering industry skills, numeracy and digital literacy, and high school requirements among others.

Chapman said that programs like these are much needed in Allegany County.

“We have a definite issue with generational poverty, individuals that are stuck in a system that they can’t seem to reach that point of increasing returns for their education,” she said.

Vega urged other adults who may be considering continuing or completing their education to do so.

“I know it’s kind of cheesy, but no matter how old you are, you can do whatever you want,” she said.