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Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Jariel Bytheway poses for his graduation photo at UCLAAttending a graduation can be one of the most uplifting experiences that a person can witness. Students celebrating their accomplishments. Parents nearly in tears because their child has completed one major phase in life. Everybody smiling from ear to ear. Happiness is all around.
Graduation is the end of one chapter in life and the beginning of a new one. For graduates Ebony Williams, Darryn Anthony, Mary Penni Polk and Elon Osmn, the chapters are at different stages of life, the excitement is just the same.
Osmn is going to graduate from Dorsey High School. She is a very ambitious teenager who is ready to get out on her own. She will attend Drew University in New Jersey in the fall.
"I want to get away," Osmn said. "I want to see new places, be in a new atmosphere. I don't want to stay in the same place my whole life."
Osmn is really taking a leap of faith. She has enjoyed the nice Southern California weather her entire life, but now she's going to be faced with some cold and icy winters. But she is not fazed, even though she has never been in the snow. One reason why she chose Drew University is because it is close to New York City, where she dreams to visit.
Osmn will study journalism, and has plans to return to Los Angeles after she finishes college to be a broadcaster for a network like ABC.
Williams has already experienced what is facing Osmn. Williams is from El Paso, Texas. She graduated from Texas A&M in 2002 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering, and then headed to Los Angeles to work for Northrop Grumman as a Structural Engineer.
Williams has made the transition to life in Southern California nicely, but she was still looking for more out of her career.
"I chose to go back to school because I knew it would help me make the career change that I wanted," Williams said.
A week ago Williams received her Masters Degree in Systems Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, all while working full time at Northrop Grumman.
"Going to school part-time while working full-time was very challenging, so completing the degree was a relief," Williams said. "This degree means a lot because after working for a couple of years, I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to do with my career than when I graduated with my undergraduate degree. This degree falls in line with my strengths, interests and career objectives. Having this degree adds to my experience in the aerospace field and helped me take my career in the direction that I wanted it to go."
While Osmn and Williams decided to leave the areas where they are from, students such as Anthony and Polk decided to stay local.
Anthony graduated from Verbum Dei High School in Watts in 2001, and from Loyola Marymount in 2005. He is now graduating with a Masters of Education in Student Affairs from UCLA.
"This has been an extremely stressful year, managing both my scholastic responsibilities and personal obligations," Anthony said. "Especially being at UCLA, such an academically challenging school with a low number of African American students with whom you can relate. I am the first African American male to complete my program at UCLA."
Anthony is a first generation college student. He said that he received more attention for graduating from high school, but to him that was expected. But he surprised people with by obtaining his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The future is very bright for Anthony, who used to work for the California Assembly Speaker. He would like to be an admission counselor, or something related to assisting high school students in getting into college.
Polk, who graduated from St. Bernard High School in 2005, recently graduated from USC, where she majored in English and Psychology. But she is not done with school yet. Polk is studying for the LSAT and plans to earn a JD and Ph.D in English, and then go on to be an entertainment attorney.
All of these students have made great accomplishments and will be assets to our community. Their hard work, dedication, and great accomplishments will take them far in their careers, and it shows our youth that with hard work and determination, they can achieve their dreams.