ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — 17 students at the Rockford Public Library’s career online high school received their diploma Thursday night.

The program started in 2017 in an effort to combat the low graduation rate in the Rockford region. This opportunity is for adults 21 and older, that may have families, jobs, or have struggled to finish their education, a chance to complete it on their own terms.

“Just a wonderful opportunity cause you get to do it on your own time. So you have no time limits. I think I did a fabulous job and if I can do it with five kids and husband, I believe anybody can do it,” said April Rolando one of this year’s graduates.

The work is entirely done online with no time limits for completion.

“They work from home. The entire curriculum is online. They can take all of the time that they need. A lot of these students of ours have been through the education system and it hasn’t worked out well for them,” said Bridget Finn the Marketing Director for the Rockford Public Library. “Career online high school is an alternative high school diploma program. Not a GED, not a certificate of completion. A high school diploma program for adult learners.”

The program has had a total of 31 graduates with 88 students currently enrolled. 96% of the students have received a scholarship from members of the community.

Emotions were high for the graduates, achieving their dreams knowing the community is their behind them.

“It’s just exciting to walk the stage finally after all these years I did it,” Rolando said.

“I was struggling with the GED because I was taking the GED, but when I saw this opportunity I’m just like you know, What more can I lose? So I went for it, and I’m glad that I did,” said Cynthia Holman a graduate.