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Grads with Grit

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

The world is now the stage for graduate who overcame behavioral issues

Shamar is known as a jokester, a fun-loving, energetic student. He dreams of becoming a professional actor. But he spent several years constantly in trouble and struggling to find his way...

From Grief and Recovery to Graduation

This high school senior survived a deadly car accident, determined to re-build his physical strength and graduate with his class...

Toughing it out through troubled times, she sets her sights on college

Before coming to the district, Ivy and her two brothers -- one older, one younger -- had lived in 16 different homes and been in and out of a half-dozen schools as a result...

Young mom surpasses expectations to get to graduation day

Ahnaka Ortiz-Rodriguez started high school while pregnant and will graduate on time, with honors and an upward trajectory-- toddler in tow...

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,...

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...

‘Your worst situation … can make you the best person that you can be’

Self-reliant since early childhood, Tiana Studebaker’s path to graduation was filled with instability. At commencement, she tipped her hat to her alternative school classmates for their perseverance...

‘He’s ready for the world’

Byron Center High School senior Nik Ursiny will graduate May 23 after learning to manage and overcome physical and mental conditions -- taking hold of his own story and advocating for himself...

She’s come so far

Farhiya realized her self-created predicament was sad, but she also knew she could get herself out of it...

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...

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...

Through Homelessness and Hardship, Northview Graduate Did What He Had to Do

Editor's note: This is the sixth of a series about students who have had to overcome unusual challenges and hardships to graduate this spring. Randy McCant had spent a fun July 4 weekend at a friend's cottage when he came home...

Diagnosis, robotics shape her confidence, drive & compassion

Senior Ellie Clark keeps herself busy helping run her organization, Ellie’s Elephants, which has raised more than $350,000 for diabetes research since 2004. She was diagnosed with the condition when she was 4...

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

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

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...

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...
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