The Finish Line
Spring is in the air—and so are mortar boards.
Graduation isn't just a time for students to close out four years of hard work (and hard partying) with pomp and circumstance. It's also a celebration of the two decades parents have spent turning mewling bundles of need into (more or less) self-sufficient members of society. The following photographs capture this shared joy of accomplishment.
Veronica Lockett wipes the tears of her son, Marlon Marshall, following his 2010 high school graduation from Chicago's Urban Prep Academies. Marshall belonged to Urban Prep's inaugural graduating class of 107 African-Americans, all of whom were accepted to college.
Michael Stewart, whose son Chris was killed by a drunk driver during his senior year, hugs Kyle Buss, one of Chris's classmates, during the 2013 commencement of New York's Shenendehowa High. Buss wears a memorial pin of Chris' graduation photo.
Ceaser Chabla-Sarmiento, whose parent are Ecuadorian immigrants, was valedictorian of the Class of 2014 at Long Island's Riverhead High. Although he spoke no English when he entered elementary school, Chabla-Sarmiento received a full scholarship to study mechanical engineering at Columbia University.
From his valedictory speech: "Take a picture—not of me, but of my family who supported me. This is the time for them to have their American dream realized. … Papa, Mama: we made it."
A Dying Wish
When doctors told Brenda Rainey she would not live through the weekend, she expressed a dying wish—to see her son, Jesse, graduate from college. But his Portland Community College graduation was set for the next month. "It became our race against time to go to PCC to get a ceremony in her hospital room," Jesse Rainey says. "She wanted to be a part of it."
During the special ceremony awarding Jesse's diploma at his mother's bedside, Brenda Rainey removed her oxygen mask to say: "Thank you for making this happen for me." She died two days later.
For video and more, visit The Columbian.
Tondaleya Robinson, 45, put off going to college for 20 years in order to raise her three children. In 2014, she finally graduated from Peirce College for Working Adults in Philadelphia with a degree in Human Resources Management.
Her son, Cpl. Paul Robinson, had told his mom that leave from his Marine Corps base in Virginia was not approved. He then surprised her on stage—and presented her diploma himself.
For video, visit 6abc.
After the Fire
Becky Rogers hugs her son, Ben, before his 2012 graduation from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.
Ben Rogers and his friend Kirk Rohle had both been hurt in a January 2012 fire in their campus dorm. Rohle was severely burned when he went back into the building to look for Rogers.
The two friends received a standing ovation when they crossed the stage to accept their diplomas.
Meeting the Challenge
Carolyn and Barry Lanzi fuss over their son, Nick, before his 2010 graduation from Vestavia Hills High School in Alabama. Nick Lanzi, who has Down syndrome, was educated in standard classes throughout his academic career.
AL.com: "When doctors diagnosed Lanzi with Down syndrome when he was just a few days old, they told his parents he would never have intelligence surpassing that of a 3-year-old.
"But when his 11th-grade American-history teacher passed him a copy of a test made specifically for 'special needs' students, he asked for a 'real' test instead. He took it. He made a 96, the highest grade in the class."
God Bless the Child
Kim Moore hugs her daughter, Maurquisha Lever, during Flint Community Schools' 2012 graduation in Flint, Michigan.
Wendy Craig-Purcell and John Purcell hug daughter and class valedictorian Jennifer during her 2014 graduation from California Virtual Academies, an organization that offers a K-12 education entirely through online classes. Many of the students were meeting their classmates for the first time at the graduation ceremony.
Jennifer Purcell: "This is so exciting. I just keep staring at name tags because I'm hoping to meet my econ teacher."
Rush of Emotion
Stacie Popp-Young took this snapshot of her stepdaughter during her 2014 high school graduation in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Popp-Young: "My stepdaughter was cool and calm throughout her high school graduation ceremony, until she saw her grandmother. Then the emotions spilled over."
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