Late at night, they studied in their living room. Marco stretched out on the floor. Nanci sat at a play table that she used as a makeshift desk. Together, they worked their way through algebra and geometry, grammar and physics. Nanci helped Marco with essays. And Marco helped Nanci with math.
"Pretty much that's how we do things," he said.
"Always together," she said.
She spent her days changing diapers, wiping noses and wrangling their three young daughters. He worked for a company that made promotional banners and earned barely more than minimum wage. In between there was cooking and cleaning, with little time — or money — for anything else.
But every Tuesday and Thursday evening, the pair sat side by side in a classroom at Wilbur Wright College where, from two seats in the center of the front row, they soaked up everything they had missed in high school. Both had dropped out when they were teenagers. ...
On Friday, Nanci Bautista, 25, and Marco Salse, 24, will walk across a stage and accept their high school equivalency diplomas in a ceremony at Wright. Roughly 900 people will get their GED certificates through the city's community colleges this year. Each of those students has a story, many a study in perseverance and grit.
The biggest commonality among the diverse student body is the hope for a better life, said Sameer Gadkaree, who is in charge of adult education at City Colleges of Chicago. "They see education as a way of advancing their goals to get a better job and have a better future," he said.