"Inspirations to Others"

Hundreds of graduates from Building Futures Academy, Come Back Kids, and the one. Program walk the stage

Not everyone's path to high school graduation is easy.

Dr. Almitra Berry-Jones changed schools in Stockton about every year and a half before she received her high school diploma. As the guest speaker at the May 21 commencement ceremony for San Joaquin Building Futures Academy and the Come Back Kids program, she told this to a group of students who knew what it meant to overcome obstacles.

She asked the graduates to stand if they had been in foster care, had their power cut off because of unpaid bills, or received an eviction notice.

Many stood.

She asked them to stand if they were the first in their family to graduate from high school or plan to go onto college.

Many more stood.

"You have made it here today. And that means you will continue on your journey all the more stronger for it," she said. "Each of you -- all of you -- are inspirations to others."

She was also the guest speaker for the one. Alternative Programs Commencement Ceremony later in the day. Both were held in the Atherton Auditorium at San Joaquin Delta College

Student speaker Rosemary Gerolaga from Building Futures Academy said she encountered many obstacles in eight years and five high schools before making it to graduation day. "The most important thing I learned, despite all I have been through, is to get up every day and strive toward my goals," she said. "Because if I don't, no one will."

Come Back Kids student speaker Maria Silva said she had overcome her own struggles, and that that experience could help others overcome theirs. "I want to show you that anything is possible in life," she told the crowd of her fellow graduates.

In all, about 150 Come Back Kids and Building Futures Academy students were part of the ceremony. About 180 more students walked the stage when it was the one.Program graduates' turn.

Families, friends, and educators shared the moment, filling the Atherton Auditorium.

Posted: 5/23/2019