STLCC HiSET graduate, Martell Taylor, Focuses on a Brighter Future

By on November 26, 2019
Graduates lift arms in celebration

St. Louis Community College (STLCC) student, Martell Taylor, maintained focus and found a way to a better life by completing the HiSET program.

At 23 years old, Martell Taylor was ready to carve out a pathway to a more promising career. He stopped attending high school and became a parent when he was 17, which made it increasingly challenging to get back on track with his education.

“It was difficult going to school so I decided to start working,” Martell said.

His employment mostly consisted of working in construction for a family member, helping with painting and laborer work. It quickly became clear that he would need to complete a higher level of education to continue moving up into better paying construction positions with benefits. So, the next course of action was for Taylor to achieve his high school equivalency.

“I wanted to get into a career, so I had to take the first step,” said Martell. “In the carpentry business you move up over time and there’s a lot more career choice. I’d be able to retire with a 401(k) and all that. And I think I want to start my own construction business down the line.”

He took the next step toward a future with more possibilities by enrolling in the STLCC’s HiSET program at Forest Park. He had completed the language and reading HiSET content areas two years prior but wasn’t able to complete the remaining three content areas at that time because of work obligations.

Immediately after enrolling in STLCC’s HiSET program, Martell felt warmly received by the tutors and facilitators.

“They treated me, really, like family,” he said. “I still call them. They still call and check up on me. It feels like a family atmosphere. It’s real comfortable.”

He completed the three remaining subjects and passed the HiSET exam within two months. He attributes his rapid success to the support the program provided and his own focus and self-motivation.

“Even though the tutors want it for you, you also have to want it for yourself,” he said. “You have to be focused. There are no shortcuts.”

Martell’s motivation is founded in his strong desire to achieve his goals in his construction career so he can make a good living and support his son.

“[I want] a better life for me and my son, more career opportunities,” he said. “I’ll start out making way more, and I’ll get to plan trips like I want. Get into a decent school, keep moving up.”

After completing the HiSET, Martell wasted no time getting into a pre-apprenticeship program with MOKAN, a St. Louis-based construction contractors assistance center that facilitates and advocates for the inclusion of minority and women-owned businesses on construction projects.

“It was a relief when I first passed [the HiSET exam],” he said. “Now I’m in this [pre-apprenticeship] class and I’m about four weeks out before I have my machine operator certificate. I just want to pass it, so that’s been my focus. I’m on another journey.”

Now on track to achieving his career goals, Martell believes STLCC’s HiSET program could also benefit others who are motivated to obtain their high school equivalency and take the first step toward a better future, too.

“I definitely would recommend it for students who have difficulty in the normal setting of school,” he said. “I definitely think that’s the place you should go.”

Are you ready to take the next step toward your career path? Visit or call 314-514-5311 for more information about the St. Louis Community College HiSET program.

About Rebecca Rutherford

Rebecca Rutherford is Marketing Communications Coordinator of St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group, which delivers non-credit continuing education opportunities, corporate training and community services to the St. Louis region.

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