Tammy Mutasa, NBC 5 Mesquite Reporter
Graduation is a reality for one group of high school students thanks to the Mesquite Academy.
Hope and hard work paid off for students at Mesquite Academy.
The school, which has students in kindergarten through grade 12, educates students in at-risk situations. It graduated 202 students this year.
Lobna Yosif's journey started three years ago when her family fled Iraq. She did not speak any English and worked countless hours to help support her family.
"Sometimes if I have any homework or stuff, I would be, like, crying," she said. "It was so hard."
Yosif and her fellow graduates were considered at-risk students who normally would have dropped out of high school because of their circumstances. Some have disabilities, some have parents in prison, and others live in poverty. Other students attend the school to graduate faster.
"I had to start from zero," Yosif said.
Students went to school every day or night for four hours, learning at an accelerated pace.
Their teachers never gave up on them.
"Their whole life changes because they know it's doable," Principal Connie Boone said.
Sergio Marquez, 16, walked across the stage with his 8-month-old son on his mind.
"By me graduating, I feel like I'm setting an example to my son, and I want him to be able to grow up and say, 'Hey, my dad graduated. Why don't I graduate?'" he said.
Proud parents cheered.
"It is so rewarding to them when they walk across the stage and graduate with that diploma," Boone said.
"I'm glad I came up here and finished and everything and now I'm done," Yosif said.
Mesquite Academy started in 1995. In the last five years, it has graduated an average of 250 students.