‘If they’re doing it, I can’: Orange man earns GED at 68

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2024

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High school graduation is a crowning achievement of one’s younger years. However, Shane Stutler takes a little more pride in his graduation than most.

He’s earned that right, especially after walking across the stage for the third time at 68 years old. On July 9, the Orange resident joined classmates in celebration at Lamar State College-Port Arthur as he graduated with his GED.

“You hear, ‘Oh, the old guy got his GED finally,’ but you don’t understand,” Stutler said. ”This is my third trip. It almost made me cry. I don’t get all emotional like that, but that did it.”

Originally from Indiana, Stutler left high school in the 1970s to join the United States Marines. After enlisting, he was deployed to Okinawa, Japan. While there, he attended a class off-base to finish his high school education.

After serving in the Marines, Stutler returned home, where he started a family with a wife and children. In the 1990s, he moved to Southeast Texas and has lived in Orange ever since.

 Since Stutler didn’t have paperwork recognizing his completion of high school, he later had to re-enroll and complete courses at Frank’s Educational School in Beaumont.

“In 2011, I finally got it,” Stutler said. “Everybody was happy. But last year I found out that my diploma was no good, so in order to keep the job I wanted I had to do it all over again.”

The job he desired was a position as a correctional officer in the state prison system. Stutler said he went through years of effort retaking classes and paying for tests because he couldn’t have gotten to where he is otherwise.

Stutler may be the oldest member of his graduating class, but his age hasn’t stopped him from connecting with classmates and providing encouragement.

“They said I inspired them,” Stutler said. “But they’re kids to me and my age. If they’re doing it, I can.”