TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - More than 150 Tucson students crossed the stage to receive their high school diplomas on Thursday, June 29.
Tucson Unified School District's 2017 summer graduation ceremony was held at Sahuaro High School.
The commencement speaker, Yesenia Astorga, was a former d ropout. She left Agave High School during her sophomore year.
"I rebelled against everyone, did what I wanted, and didn't think school was important," Astorga said.
But one of her teachers inspired her to get back to the classroom and two years later, with a little encouragement, she did.
Astorga was one of two graduates who were part of the TUSD's Steps to Success program where staff and administration members go door-to-door to encourage students who have left school to return and get their diploma.
Astorga wasn't alone in leaving school. Last fall Lawrence Dixon also d ropped out of his school, Sahuaro High.
"It was the worst decision I could have made," Dixon said.
Dixon got kicked out of his house. As he slept on couches, he soon realized if he wanted a better life he'd have to go back to school. So, he took online classes to catch up.
"It was really hard, I'm not going to lie. But I just had a picture in my head that I wanted to do it and wanted to get done. So I had to get it done and work hard," Dixon said.
Dixon has aspirations to join the Air Force.
"It feels good. I feel accomplished," Dixon said.
Astorga has an added challenge of completing her schoolwork as a mom, and she's pregnant, but she is determined to create a bright future for her family.
"I really want to be a motivation and inspiration for my kids to have a better life and always finish school," Astorga said.
The graduation ceremony included students from every high school in TUSD.