When Angelica Nava fell behind at Lodi High school, she began doing independent study in an attempt to catch up on her credits.
But then she began working nearly full-time at a retirement home, so school still took her a while. She was older than 18 then, so school officials suggested she could finish enough credits to get her GED.
Then her mother went to an informational meeting and learned that Nava could still have a shot at a diploma if she went to Liberty High School and caught up on her credits.
She did it, and school faculty selected her as one of two student speakers at Thursday's graduation.
"I learned to do my best and succeed in life, because it's worth it," she told a crowd of several hundred people.
Now 20, Nava received her high school diploma alongside her younger sister Thursday.
She has a goal now: In September she'll start classes to become a certified nursing assistant, and then she'll go on to Fresno City College.
The Lodi native received a $375 scholarship Thursday from the Lodi Rotary Club.
Two years after he started at Tokay High School, Jessie Morante was floundering. He was behind in credits and couldn't catch up.
"I was just another face in the crowd, so a school day seemed to go on forever," he said.
So he found himself at Liberty High School, "where my teachers got after me if I slacked off."
That was the push Morante needed, and on Thursday he put on a cap and gown, received his high school diploma and was even one of two students selected to speak at the graduation ceremony.
"I can be whatever I want — anyone can," he told a crowd of fellow graduates, family members and friends.
The 18-year-old received a $375 scholarship from the Lodi Rotary Club, which will go toward his education at San Joaquin Delta College.
Morante is already enrolled with a full load of classes, most of them in the automotive field. That's his current goal, but he's also entertaining ideas of eventually becoming an art teacher.
Contact reporter Layla Bohm at firstname.lastname@example.org.