Robert and Tamela Anderson are the poster children of successful "life after layoff."

The couple was IC Corp. employees for 20 years when widespread layoffs affected them each just two weeks apart.

"We were given little encouragement of recall. It hit hard since we were laid off near the same time," Tamela Anderson said. "As your prospects narrow, you become increasingly discouraged."

Robert Anderson said he and his wife began the search for employment immediately, but found no prospects for two factory workers.

"As it started to sink in that our livelihood was gone and manufacturing in the area was not improving, we realized we had to do something else," Tamela Anderson said.

Conway Adult Education became a "beacon" for the two.

"We were met with so many programs and encouragement," Tamela Anderson said. "They had so much to offer. Conway Adult Ed. has caused parts of my brain to reawaken after many years of repetitive tasks." 

Four months of classes later, the two took college entry exams and became, for the first time, college students.

Tamela Anderson entered on a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. 

Robert Anderson will seek a degree in petroleum technology, and Tamela Anderson, accounting.

Both students have 12-hour credit loads, a full-time status for the university level. 

Though they are apprehensive, they say they will continue to find support in the adult education program.

"They’re not going to let us quit," Robert Anderson said.

Tamela and Robert Anderson are 48-years-old and are residents of Greenbrier. 

"They are great examples of what can be accomplished under difficult circumstances," said Michelle Horton, assessment and marketing coordinator for the Conway Adult Education Center. "No matter the obstacles students face, if they come to Adult Ed., we give them the ability to take baby steps. And we are not the finish line. This isn’t it. There’s life after GED. This is the first step in the effort of continuing education."

Today is the first day of the Center’s fall semester. Interested parties do not have to be pre-registered to enroll in the program. This semester’s programs and classes include GED Credential, computer courses and workshops and English as a Second Language.  

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to Send us your news at