Gretchen Wilson took the mic before a very different type of audience this week. The country star, who proudly earned her GED last year after a 20-year hiatus from school, traveled to Washington, D.C., to testify in a hearing before the Subcommittee on Higher Education. Gretchen used the opportunity to detail her own personal struggle to support herself without an education. She also spoke of the positive turn her life has taken since receiving her GED.

"I'm definitely walking around with a little more sense of pride than I've ever had, because I'm not a part of that statistic anymore," she testified, according to Nashville's Tennessean newspaper. "I'm able now to hold jobs out there that I couldn't have before, and I'm able to help my daughter with her homework. It's made huge differences, mostly with my fans. What I've noticed most is when they come backstage and they shake my hand, they tell me I've inspired them or their brother or their mother who have gone back and gotten their education."

Gretchen admits she didn't set out to become the poster child for adult education, but if she can use her public profile to help others, she is more than happy to do so.

"When I became a celebrity I didn't really think about the role model thing that comes along with it," she says. "When you have the opportunity to help people, and you start to see what kind of good your celebrity can do, you start to focus on the things that matter to you. My trip up here today was simply to help people get this good feeling I've got about myself."

While Gretchen no longer has stage fright when she is singing, speaking in front of the approximately 150 politicians in the room brought her anxiety to a whole new level. "I used to think I got nervous before I walked out on stage until I was sitting in that room in there," she admits. "Wow, my heart was thumping pretty hard."