This is the story of Hermes Parga, a Herkimer BOCES external diploma graduate. Hermes shared his story with the Literacy Coalition of Herkimer & Oneida Counties to illustrate how hard work and community support can change someone’s life.
I never thought that I would be alive today. When I look back at my life now, all I see is chaos. Between gangs, drugs and psych hospitals, it was not hard to see that my only options in life were few- death, prison and institution seemed to be lurking on every corner. I was in bondage to many lies until 3 years ago I had a powerful encounter with God. I was a slave to the institution of my dark surrounding and upbringing. Until that one point in my life 3 years ago the chains were broken little did I know that I was about to embark on a journey that would forever change my life. In 2011, I went to jail just prior to finding out that I was a father to a four month old baby named Harmony Grace. As I sat in jail with no hope I wondered should I try to get my GED since I failed it last time by only 2 points. I immediately signed up for school at jail. My first day of school I met my teacher, Jessica from BOCES. When I began to pursue my GED, Jessica explained that I could get a real high school diploma. I felt tired and defeated while I was at the jail. But there was something different about my teacher, Jessica. She had compassion and didn’t just see me as a criminal with an orange suit on. She believed in me and the potential for greatness inside of me, as I talked about my fascination with Einstein and science. With the support of my teacher, Jessica, and my friend Lesslie Crichton who visited me at the jail faithfully every visit to tell me that the day I got my high school diploma that I would finally be at the bottom and that I could only go up from there. Eventually I completed the program and received a real high school diploma at 25 years old. My diploma said Herkimer Central High School at that time I was the first one in my family to receive a real high school diploma. I left jail and I eventually went to the addiction crisis center at the Rescue Mission in Utica. From there I went to rehab. When I came out of rehab I went to the Rescue Mission shelter. I visited the Literacy Zone and used their resources that were available to get me started in life with work and pursuing a higher education. Since then, I have been given custody of my daughter who is 3 years old. Being a single parent is challenging, however, I look forward to sharing my story of redemption and eventually getting a college degree.