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Grads with Grit

A series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring.

Turning pain into motivation

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

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...

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...

‘There’s no replacing Milton’

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

A father’s love, a son’s devotion, a school success

Arec Winright used his memory of his father as motivation to do well in school and work hard toward graduation...

‘So many doors have opened’

With the aid of Kent ISD’s Project NorthStar, a new father made a choice that led him to not only graduate, but to do so early...

Setting out with a camera to change the world for the better

Mariah Barrera, who has already made her mark with several award-winning short films, plans to pursue her passion at Columbia University in New York City...

‘Following a map and the sky’

Adjy Jean spent years as an unaccompanied youth, displaced and moving from country to country. Now, after three years settled in Michigan, he will graduate from East Kentwood High School...

‘I have to push myself’

Rodrigo Lopez-Ruiz, whose family lives in Mexico, has worked hard to support himself and take accountability during high school, overcoming odds to graduate. He also serves others through his job at Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital...

From childhood struggles in Georgia to student leader at Comstock Park

Switching states and school systems after a difficult childhood, Abbie Glass blossomed into a student leader at Comstock Park High School...

She’s ‘small but mighty’ and ready to fly

Despite a time of homelessness in ninth grade, and the COVID-19 school closure as a senior, Kelloggsville senior Naudia Potts is set to graduate and has been accepted to Central Michigan University where she will major in social work...

‘A light that cannot and will not be put out’

Surviving family trauma and housing instability, getting behind on classes, losing beloved grandmothers and becoming a mother did not stop this senior from walking across the graduation stage...

Plan failed? Draw up a new one

Two years ago, Chris Hribek was on a road to nowhere with failing grades, attendance issues and an attitude problem...

Brother and sister work hard for ‘a better future, a better life’

Anyelin and Yustin Vasquez Lopez left a dangerous life in Guatemala to achieve academic excellence and set career goals in America...

Overcoming homelessness to get her degree, she’s ready to help others

Jordan Lovett, once homeless, graduated from Grand Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She is eager to advocate for others facing similar struggles to her own...
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