March 9, 2005, New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was joined in Albany by Long Beach resident Lena Walker who was honored by the New York Association for Continuing/Community Education as one of its 16 Outstanding Adult Students of the Year.
“Lena Walker is an inspiration to everyone who has been confronted with adversity and her story is a testament to perseverance and the love of learning,” said Senator Skelos. “It has been a great privilege to meet Lena. She is a remarkable woman and her lifelong commitment to family, hard work and education provide a role model for our young people.”
One of 13 children, Lena Walker was raised in rural Pamplin, Virginia during segregation and denied access to local public schools. In fact, the schools in her home PrinceEdwardCounty closed for a period of four years instead of desegregating.
Because she was denied a formal education, Lena attended classes and received a certificate of completion from the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP in 1960. After she was denied the opportunity to attend high school, she moved to New York with her brother and his family at the age of 17. Working two jobs, Lena continued to pursue an education through adult education courses.
In 1998, Lena underwent successful surgery for a brain tumor and, during her rehabilitation process, often walked past the Long BeachLearningCenter. In December 2002, Lena enrolled in the Center’s External Diploma Program and earned her high school diploma in December 2004. In the future, she hopes to advance to higher education.
“Lena has been an exemplary student with a genuine love of learning,” said Marcia Mulé, Program Manager for Adult and Continuing Education at the Long BeachCitySchool District. “Her work ethic, integrity and generosity benefit all who know her and make her a true role model. Lena Walker has faced all of the challenges in her life with courage, determination and dignity. It was an honor and a privilege to nominate her as Outstanding Student of the Year, a title she so richly deserves.”