Home > SPCC student had highest GED score in state

When Brian Wells makes his mind up to do something, not only does he follow through, he goes beyond the norm.Brian Wells Going beyond the norm and striving for a life beyond minimum-wage jobs pushed him to have the highest score out of 13,766 people who took the GED test in North Carolina in 2010.

Denise Wilson, director of South Piedmont Community College’s Adult Basic Skills programs, said that 2,250 out of a possible 4,000 is considered a passing score in North Carolina and that SPCC considers anyone with a score of 3,000 or higher an honor graduate. Wells scored 3,860. “In the GED and Adult High School programs, we graduate over 400 students per year,” she said. “We are so proud of Brian’s achievement ... and his transition to SPCC’s college classes.”

It took a few missteps along the way, however, to lift Wells to the top of his class. Wells grew up in Jupiter, Fla. His father retired from the military and began a new career with the U.S. Postal Service, but eventually retired from that when Wells was still in high school. Wells’ mother is originally from Union County, so after his father’s retirement, she wanted the family to move back to North Carolina to be near her family again.

High school is such a huge part of every teen’s life, and Wells didn’t want to move to North Carolina. He wanted to finish high school in Florida with his friends, so arrangements were made to enable him to do so. The lack of a real family structure, however, helped end his high school career before graduation. When asked why he didn’t graduate, he said, “I don’t really know. I always scored in the top 1 percent on the FCAT (Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Tests) in Florida and always scored the highest in the county on the science portion of the tests. In some ways, I think I thought I was smarter than my high school instructors. I was just being a teenager, I guess.”

Wells embarked on a life of working minimum-wage jobs, which didn’t bring him much satisfaction. He said his father finally told him, “Brian, just make sure you do a good job at whatever you choose to do in life. If you want to be a garbage collector, make sure you’re the very best garbage collector that you can be.” He decided he didn’t want to be a garbage collector; he wanted to do something more with his life. He wasn’t sure what that something was at the time, but he knew he had to make a change in order to be successful.

That change ended up being a move to North Carolina to be with his family, which helped him make some important decisions. “I decided I wanted to join the Navy, but the Navy insisted that I get my GED and 15 college credit hours, so I enrolled at South Piedmont Community College in the GED program,” he said.

Wells has a new outlook since he achieved the highest score in the state on his GED test. His high score gave him the confidence to continue his education and he is now working on his associate in science degree and plans to get his doctorate in nuclear engineering.

“Everyone in the Basic Skills Department at SPCC is very, very encouraging,” he said. “Even though there are a lot of students in those classes, the instructors still take the time to help each individual one on one. They prepared me to be the top GED graduate in the state.

“It’s never too late to go back to school and get your GED or degree,” he added.” If I can encourage even one person to go back to school and further their education, then this has all been worth it. Never give up; don’t ever give up.”

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Media inquiries: Rosemary Britt, 704-272-5342, rbritt@spcc.edu