BROOKSVILLE — Alex Fredericks will take a huge step out of his past and into his future tonight during the Hernando County school district's adult education graduation.
Fredericks, 22, will accept his high school diploma after passing General Educational Development tests in language arts, writing, reading, social studies, science and mathematics.
As a youngster, Fredericks went to private school until his mother could no longer afford it. Her plan was to homeschool him. But, he said, "I was rebellious and fell behind."
That was when Alex was in fourth grade.
His environment, he said, wasn't ideal, and he spent a lot of his time "playing with computers and hanging out."
As an 18-year-old, he did some "tree work here and there," but became addicted to prescription drugs. He eventually turned to crime, stealing.
"I was arrested," he said.
Fredericks was in jail for a couple of weeks when his mother, Desiree Alexander, posted bail and tried to get him help. They were directed to the Jericho Road Ministries shelter and were put in contact with the Rev. Fred Parker.
"By all rights, he should be in jail right now," Parker said of Fredericks.
But, Fredericks said, "By some act of divine intervention, I got probation, and as soon as I pay off my work fines, I'll be out. I'm working for the ministry now."
With the GED under his belt, Fredericks plans to attend Pasco-Hernando Community College in the fall. He's not sure what he wants to study, but is considering human services "to spread the message that there's still hope if you mess up," he said.
"Just trust in the Lord, put your nose to the grindstone and you'll get through it," Fredericks said he has learned.
Parker is impressed with the young man's progress.
"Alex has been one of our exceptional students and has excelled," he said.
Fredericks appreciates how his mother has stood by him through all of his troubles.
"My mom has been nothing but supportive," he said.
Fredericks was recently honored at a HEART Literacy luncheon, receiving a certificate of achievement for his academic accomplishments during a short period of time.