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Grads with Grit

Post high school, she’s pursuing big dreams in the Big Apple

A year after graduating from high school during the pandemic lockdown, Mariah Barrera is wrapping up her first year at Columbia University in New York City...

Determination is key to getting it done

Sparta’s adult education program thrived during the pandemic. It offered new beginnings to a diverse group of students, including refugees, young parents, older adults, recent drop-outs and students from other districts...

A graduation victory for this band of brothers

A quartet of fifth-year seniors at Unity High School weren’t sure they would be able to graduate, until they met each other and realized that they could do it together...

Determined leader sprints past K-12 finish line, pushed by her little ‘star’

Growing up, DaJa West always knew she was going to graduate from high school. But when she became pregnant, “some people doubted me,” she said. They shouldn’t have...

From regular trouble to focused & mature

This potential future corrections officer knows what it takes to turn things around...

For once-homeless mother and daughter graduates, ‘dreams do come true’

Ayjia Jones and her mother, Monique Williams, are both graduates of the Class of 2021. Their accomplishment comes after two years living in motels, searching for housing and pathways to stability...

‘Her deafness does not define her’

This grad hopes to learn scuba diving and to fly an airplane, but highest on her agenda is to aid in the fight for her right to join the armed forces...

Writing through the grief

Approaching the end of her senior year, she is learning to grieve with grace and share her emotions through writing, after the death of her older sister in 2016...

‘God gives me hope’: a refugee student’s hard journey to graduation

On a journey from the Congo to Grand Rapids, faith, and the people placed in his path, have helped a Kelloggsville senior deal with some tough circumstances...

Journey of survival, hard work, inspires him to inspire others

Six years ago hewas in an Indonesian detention center. Today he is a recipient of Western Michigan University’s most prestigious merit-based scholarship...

‘I want to do that’

The encouragement of co-workers helped her discover Kent ISD adult education and its career and technical ed programs...

With his eye on the goal

Godwin’s Ru’Quan Buckley was not going to let anything -- including a pandemic -- stop him from achieving his goal...

Turning pain into motivation

An abusive relationship could not deter this university-bound senior from excelling...

While embracing her roots, student leader steps forward

The daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, Quyen Tran was instrumental in elevating the work of the Asian Student Union at East Kentwood High School. She is now headed to Harvard with a sense of purpose and humanitarian goals...

Dad helped daughter succeed through his actions

Larica Brown and her father, Lorenzo, worked hard to make a better life for themselves in the United States...

‘There’s no replacing Milton’

This student went from principal’s office regular to class leader and role model...
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