Sunnyside graduates take different path to future goals

Sunnyside graduates take different path to future goals
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - There was a celebration on Tucson's south side Wednesday night as Sunnyside High's graduation ceremony sent 396 seniors off into the real world.

The graduates accepted diplomas, as family and friends watched and cheered.

Prior to the excitement, the seniors all sat patiently in anticipation inside the gymnasium. They're on different paths, but are ready for what's ahead

"It's a good stepping stone to the next chapter of our lives," said Roman Bravo-Young.

His next chapter is a full-ride scholarship for athletics.

He's a four-time state champion in wrestling, having gone 182-0 in his high school career.

He'll be leaving for Penn State Thursday morning, ready to get started with a national powerhouse team that just won the NCAA title.

"I'm going far away," he said. "It's going to be a change but I've got to do what's best. It's the best wrestling program so I've got to adapt."

While he leaves, Jaynelle Granados is staying home.

She said she's adapted to becoming a leader here at home.

"It was a beautiful experience that I would relive forever if I could," she said. "I learned a lot about my school, the community, myself, about my peers," she said.

The Sunnyside student body president has led all her peers as an undocumented immigr ant.

Born in Mexico, Granados has completed every level of her education in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

"For the past 13 years, I've known what I'm going to do the next fall, the next spring. After today it's a little uncertain, you know," Granados said.

It's uncertain because of the challenges.

Under Proposition 300 in Arizona, passed in 2006, a person who is not a citizen and is without lawful immigration status is not entitled to tuition waivers, gr ants, scholarships or other financial assistance that is funded by state money.

That lack of funding means Granados will take a longer path to her goal. She will attend Pima Community College, for now, with hopes of transferring to Seattle University to continue in her quest to become a teacher.

"All of my hard work. All of my parent's hard work, for always pushing me and always wanting me to be the best. Sacrifices they've made, it's all paid off. I'm just one step closer to reaching my goals of being a successful woman," she said.

Wednesday night, she basked in every moment.

"For me, that's what makes this gown and this night that much more special because I was able to overcome all those barriers that society tends to place on immigr ant students like myself.

"At the end of the day, I am still a student, just like all of my peers."

She's got the documentation to prove it.

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