A National Geographic Journalist's GED® Success Story

In America, 39 million adults have no high school diploma. Passing the GED test or HiSET exam to earn a certificate offers a second chance to high school drop-outs. An official state-issued high school equivalency diploma is the accepted alternative to a high school diploma. But how far can you go in life with a GED certificate? Take a look at Paul Salopek, a journalist who has won two Pulitzer Prizes as a foreign correspondent.

Paul Salopek was born in Barstow, California in 1962. He dropped out of high school and took the GED test to earn his high school equivalency certificate. He didn't stop there. While working as a fisherman and farmworker, Salopek earned a degree in environmental biology from UC Santa Barbara, graduating in 1984. When his motorcycle broke down in New Mexico a year later, he took a job at a local newspaper to earn money to repair his bike. It was the beginning of a career.

Salopek has worked for National Geographic and Texas's El Paso Times. Currently, he is a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, writing about Africa, Central Asia, and the Balkans. In 1998, he won a Pulitzer Prize for writing about the Human Genome Diversity Project, and in 2001, he won another for his writing about Africa, including the civil war in Congo. He has written about more than 50 countries throughout the world. In 2006, Salopek was held in prison for five weeks in Darfur, one of the many conflict zones he's traveled to as a writer.

Salopek is the recipient of the 2009 Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism. As part of the award, he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Colby College in Waterville, Maine. How far can passing the GED test take you? As far as you can imagine!

Paul Salopek made the effort to get a GED certificate and went to the ends of the earth with it. That's what high school equivalency diplomas are for. They open doors for adults who need more opportunities for better jobs, higher education, and personal fulfillment. Each diploma earned represents the potential for achieving a dream. Try a free online practice test to start your journey!


Erin Campos, Educator


Success Stories