- Sponsorship -

Grads with Grit

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

Coming from struggle, Somali student wants to ‘change someone’s life’

A Forest Hills Northern High School graduate born in war-torn Somalia plans to leverage the opportunities he has been given in this country to help children and families adjust to the U.S. and its culture...

‘A Better Life, a Safe Life, a Good Future’

In a swirling sea of students in red and white caps and gowns who were hugging family members and being photographed, Abdulhadi Aljazaeri stood tall with a beaming smile. In his hand he clutched something precious: a high school...

A ‘Battler’ who Wouldn’t Settle for Less

Brittney Schnicke's first thought as she stared at her limp, badly damaged fingers was not whether she would be able to keep them, or how the accident would affect her future. And it wasn't whether she would ever regain normal...

Cerebral Palsy and Learning Disability Haven’t Stopped EGR Grad

Editor's note: This is the fourth of a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. East Grand Rapids High School senior Rosie Accola has an easy smile and super-smart vocabulary. She...

Unbreakable Spirit

A recent district grad who's lived his life with serious health problems is on his way to Harvard, an accomplishment that surprised even him. Justin Sydloski applied to four colleges and was accepted by the University of Michigan to study...

From homelessness to supporting himself, he’s ready for college

Technically homeless, Tristen Foley worked and studied around the clock to get his diploma...

From Genocide to College, Rwandan Refugee Student Keeps Faith Strong

Editor's note: This is the seventh of a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. Moses Kabandana was born in Rwanda in January 1994, just before the killing started. By that June,...

If you give a kid a 3D printer he will want to be a...

Graduate Bryan Rosello Lizardo overcame challenges and struggles, and is headed to the University of Michigan...

Running the good race, from refugee camp to top student-athlete

Jama Jafari Jama has been through rough times, but he says nothing will stop him in the long journey now before him, starting with a scholarship at Aquinas College...

Determined grad finds her way from life-altering earthquake to success

Coming to U.S. from Haiti just two years ago, Roodflore Winkels has accomplished much and is reaching for new heights...

Diploma: ‘I Feel Like it Changed My Life’

Tyler Zahnke sat down at his musical instrument – aka, his Toshiba laptop  – and proceeded to open a wonder-box of sounds. He called it “Welcome to the Tape.” Out the sounds came, tumbling one into the next: Bach’s Brandenburg...

Drawing a Path to Her Future

Katie Bork's drawings explode with imagination. Scenes in black ink reveal a world right out of her brain. Faceless people go about their daily lives with exclamation points and question marks on their bellies; they float in dreamlike bubbles;...

Undaunted by Disease, Staying the Course

Standing in a hall of Sparta High School, Steven Sevarns wore a smile that might suggest he wasn't headed to class that day. He had finished his last lessons before graduation, and all but the ceremony was behind him. A...

From conflict to commencement: African refugee finds success through perseverance

In the fall, Jeanette Mukampabuka will begin studying for an engineering or nursing degree at Western Michigan University and wants to eventually pursue her master’s degree...

Determination over Depression: Future Trooper Found New Home and Career Calling

Editor’s note: This is the last of our “Grads with Grit” series about students who have overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. Molly Sheehan-Visser was being treated for suicidal depression at a psychiatric hospital when a nurse...

Graduating Senior Battles Disease with Unconventional Approach

Editor's Note: This is the second of a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. Alexis Hickman tells her story candidly and openly, her personality displaying a combination of youthful sparkle...
Sponsorship
Sponsorship