Student fulfills his mother’s dying wish; earns high school diploma

On May 23, Walmart hosted its first event to celebrate the latest graduate of Cengage Learning’s Career Online High School (COHS), Jason Thackston. Jason attended COHS through the Walmart Lifelong Learning program, which enables employees to earn an AdvancED/SACS/NCA/NWAC high school diploma and career certification at no cost.

For 38-year-old Jason, who completed the program during the time his mom lost her battle with cancer, it was an emotionally charged event. It was his mother’s last wish that he not give up on his education.

“She said just promise me one thing—promise me you’ll finish your school. Soon after I made that promise to my mom, she passed….”

Jason accomplished this dream with the help of his Academic Coach.

“During my hardest times when I wanted to give up, I had an Academic Coach, Kim Sher. She told me about her situation—when she was a freshman in college both of her parents had died and she wanted to quit, as well. But she didn’t, and that was enough to help push me along.”

He refused to give up. “I finally completed my courses on April 14 of 2016—so I did keep my promise.”

Walmart has seen more than 100 employees graduate since the program’s launch. The company recently shared the story of Jason’s success on their website.

The recognition ceremony was held at the Washington Court House, Ohio, Walmart Distribution Center where Jason works. COHS Principal Teresa Salafrio and Academic Coach Kim Sher attended the event to support Jason alongside his Walmart coworkers and management team.

“We are so proud of him,” said Salafrio. “Jason persevered, and as a result of that, he chose the pathway to opportunity. So many great things are in store for him.”

Jason plans to attend college next. Recognized by colleges and universities in all 50 states, the COHS diploma has enabled 72 percent of graduates to go on to attend college or postsecondary training. Jason anticipates joining them.

“My future’s unlimited now; now that that door is open.”

>>Watch the video of Jason’s success story.

>>Visit Walmart’s blog featuring Jason.

About Career Online High School
Career Online High School was developed in 2012 through a partnership by Cengage Learning and Smart Horizons Career Online Education, in an effort to provide affordable, career-based online education opportunities for the millions of adults in the United States without high school diplomas. Since its launch, Career Online High School has been recognized as part of a Commitment to Action by the Clinton Global Initiative and acknowledged at the White House College Opportunity Summit. Visit to learn more.