Their families and children cheered as adults received their high school diplomas after months, and in some cases years, of school work at the second annual Career Online High School Graduation Ceremony.
The three graduating students all completed OC Public Library’s Career Online High School program for the sake of their families. One student did it as part of a deal to get his daughter to finish high school, another wanted to improve his English to better connect with his son, and the third wanted to better support his 16-month-old baby.
Allan Zabecki, 44, found it difficult to juggle his full-time IT job and running a cheerleading program, but he wanted to finish for the sake of his then teenaged daughter.
“I made her a deal,” Zabecki said. “I would go back and finish high school if she would see it through and graduate with her class. She agreed.”
Zabcecki started on the path to his diploma is 2016, but he briefly took a leave of absence from it due to a broken leg, making his normal schedule even more strenuous.
Argo Wiria, a 31-year-old new graduate, has a 16-month-old baby to take care of, so he wanted his diploma to get a government job that pays better than his current work as a chef.
“I want to improve myself,” explained Wiria, adding that he went back and completed his high school education because of “family and a better future.”
One graduating student, 42-year-old Youcet Iouknane, said he had a degree in economics from Algeria, where he lived until 10 years ago when he moved to the United States. Iouknane wanted to improve his English to better connect with his fifth-grade son, however. With plans to continue his education to further his career as a massage therapist, Iouknane eventually hopes to graduate to physical therapy.
The program, which currently has 30 people in it, is meant to work with the schedule of the adults taking it, which means that there is no set graduation time as candidates work at their own pace.
The program, which is run through the OC Public Library system, is available to any adult with a library card.
“They say time heals everything, but time is also required for growth,” Zabecki said. “A tree doesn’t sprout in the ground the moment you plant a seed. It takes commitment nurturing and time for that seed to grow into a tree. Don’t expect results instantly overnight, next week or even in some cases a year. Persistence is key.”
An editorial intern and news junkie with a hankering for all things spicy, Jackson gained a passion for journalism writing about housing and homelessness in the Bay Area for the Daily Californian and the Tenderloin Tribune. When not writing, Jackson can be found rambling to anyone who listens about old movies no one else cares about. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.