Our senior year came to a rapid end after returning from that Disney trip. We made it through our last few finals and I ended my last semester of high school with the best GPA I had ever had in all my years of school. Something else had happened to me over those last two years of high school – I had become popular. This same kid from junior high, who had been picked on almost relentlessly because he was different, had become popular enough for someone to nominate him to be class President. Looking back now at myself as that fifteen-year-old kid from junior high school, I never would have dreamt that my high school years would have turned out the way they did.

The night had come to walk across the stage at the Charleston Civic Center to receive my diploma. All of my family was there to watch this chapter of my life come to an end. If I had looked into the future as a younger child to this graduation night, I would not have recognized myself. My head was held high as I walked across the stage, shook the hand of the principal and proudly accepted my diploma.

After the graduation ceremony had finished, and after we had thrown our caps into the air, and all the photos were taken, the realization finally sit in. I had accomplished some great things over those years in school but more importantly I had conquered many aspects of my life that as a younger child would have never thought possible. By the grace of God, I had made it.

I can still remember to this day the huge smile on my mom’s face as she came down the steps of the Civic Center to give me a hug. She must have been proud of me because we hugged for what seemed like several minutes. With tears flowing down her cheeks, she said “I love you, son”.

After the graduation, most of the graduates were dropped off at the local YWCA for the after graduation party. Project Graduation, as it was called, was a lock-in of sorts and a way to keep us safe. We stayed up all night long, well most of us did, and played games and watched movies.

The summer after my senior year turned into a mess pretty much as soon as it started.  I wanted to go to college however with no money and no scholarships, this was simply not possible. Tammy had garnered some scholarships and was also been accepted into the work-study program at West Virginia State College. Me, I struggled to find a job and without any experience or college degree, no one would even look at me. My parents did not have the money to send me to school so I had to sit out that fall semester of 1991. I became very frustrated but Tammy stayed by my side the whole way through. She encouraged me and gave me hope when I felt at my worst during that summer.

Later that year I was finally able to get a job working as a carry-out / stock boy at a locally owned grocery store. I worked really hard those last two months of 1991 saving every penny I could find and was able to enroll at WVSC in their Mathematics / Computer Sciences program for the spring 1992 semester.

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