- Sponsorship -

Grads with Grit

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

Strong faith, desire to help pushes her to be healing force through song

Despite tremendous loss, and mental and physical ailments, MacKenzie Van Dorp is off to the country music capital to pursue a career in music...

‘No matter what life throws at us, we grow, like flowers’

Said counselor Elle Burgess of Elizabeth Walski’s positivity in the face of numerous challenges, 'If anyone has shown they have grit, it’s her'

‘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...

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...

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...

‘A drive to prove myself’

Brittle bone disease has not stopped Thornapple Kellogg senior Kaleb Sydloski from taking part in band, swimming and tennis while in high school...

‘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...

Shooting for the Top

Donnie Alford owns his past with a perspective on where he comes from, where he is today and why it all matters that seems mature beyond his 18 years. The Wyoming High School senior, who graduated June 1, tells...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Blessed and grateful: challenges faced with positive attitude

Senior Cayleigh Constance has overcome challenges from family illness to mental health. After a four-month hiatus, she’s on track to graduate this year...

‘You can’t rely on other people to build you up’

Shane Brewer admits he once did “the bare minimum” in school. “I just scraped along. It’s not that I’m not smart. I just didn’t see the point.” Until he did...

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...

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...
Sponsorship
Sponsorship