Walmart employee German Powell is Career Online High School’s newest graduate. The 20-year-old resident of Miami, Florida, who graduated in September with his high school diploma and credentialed career certificate, is now on to fulfill his dreams of going to college.

Though German finished high school in 2011, he was unable to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), a requirement for graduation in the state of Florida. “I’m from Panama and I struggled with English when I first got here,” he said. “I just could not pass the Language part of the FCAT.”

Without a high school diploma from an accredited institution, German could not qualify for federal financial aid or pursue further education, and he was unable to apply for better positions at work. However, a mentor at Walmart took notice of him, recognizing that in spite of his potential he was being held back by his lack of a high school diploma.

“He said to me, ‘German, you need to do something else with your life. You need to go back to school, earn a diploma, build a career for yourself, and keep moving forward.’ He told me he had been hearing a lot about this program and he thought it would be a good fit for me.”

As soon as he got off work the next day, German went to CBT College in Cutler Bay, FL, and he enrolled in the Career Online High School program hosted on its campus shortly thereafter. The AdvancEd/SACS-accredited program offers “two-in-one”—students earn a credentialed career certificate along with the high school diploma. He chose the General Career Preparation certificate program, in which students learn basic business, communication, and technical skills that can be used in a variety of career fields.

“Graduating with the Professional Skills Certificate helped me a lot,” said German. “There were things I didn’t know how to handle in my career—how to deal with different kinds of people, how to cope with various situations, and how to manage my life. I learned a lot from those courses.”

The campus program offered a hybrid approach, in which the online program was complemented by an on-campus learning lab providing computers, resources, and teaching support. German took advantage of both the onsite resources and 24/7 online availability of coursework. “On my days off, I went to the campus,” he said. “Then at night, I could get on my computer and work on my courses from home.”

Next, German plans to attend Miami Dade College in Miami, FL, where he will pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

According to Dr. Howard Liebman, Career Online High School’s District Superintendent, the school has begun establishing partnerships with corporations like Walmart in order to expand educational opportunities to employees such as German who do not possess high school diplomas. In fact, Career Online High School now offers a Retail Customer Service Skills Certificate specifically designed for students employed in retail settings.

“Having seen positive results in students like German who are employed in major corporations around the country, and knowing that many retail employees lack high school diplomas, we saw the need for a certificate track that targeted the specific skills needed in that industry,” said Dr. Liebman. “The employees benefit because they earn their diplomas and are able to move forward in their careers, and the corporations benefit by having a better-educated, more highly trained workforce.”

For German, the future looks bright. He is grateful to the Walmart employee who encouraged him to go back and complete his high school diploma, and to the program that has served as a springboard to college and a better career outlook. “He gave me good advice,” said German. “It made me feel good to go back to school. When I enrolled in Career Online High School at CBT College it made me feel alive. I was excited to go back to school and be able to really do something with my life.”

About Smart Horizons Career Online Education

Smart Horizons Career Online Education, founded in 2009 and located in Pensacola, Florida, is a private, AdvancED/SACS accredited online school district. AdvancED/SACS District accreditation signifies that SHCOE and all of its schools are fully accredited and that SHCOE is recognized across the nation as a quality school system. Smart Horizons Career Online Education offers 18-credit, career-based high school diploma programs that are designed to prepare students for entrance into the workplace. Career certificate offerings include Childcare Education, Office Management, Protection Services, Homeland Security, Transportation Services, Professional Skills, Retail Customer Service Skills, and Food & Customer Service Skills. For more information, visit our website at, call our office at 855.777.4265 or email us at