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Bloomington grads grateful for family support

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
June 1, 2012 at 1:01 a.m.

Ryan Wayne Brown, 19, plans to enlist in the Marines

BLOOMINGTON - Ryan Brown failed an English class three years ago. He moved to California to be with his brother and to get focused. He did.

On Friday evening the 19-year-old graduating senior adjusted his tassel as he prepared to take the victory walk.

"I never thought I'd be here," he said, with his head bowed.

Ryan overcame obstacles trying not to succumb to peer-pressure. Some of his friends dropped out of school and got into trouble. But, his family encouraged him to have a better life.

Before Ryan and the 32 other graduates received their diplomas, they strolled down the hallways telling jokes and reminiscing about good times.

Although the new graduating class got the glory, each one had someone else to thank for helping them cross the finish line.

Salutatorian Valarie Aguayo was grateful to her family for supporting her to succeed.

"I thought I knew it all," she said in her address. "One thing I know I will always need is my Mom and Dad. They give the best advice."

Ryan thanked his mother, brother and God. And in turn, the new Bobcat alum wanted to honor his family. He's planning to enlist as a Marine.

"I want a good life and to become a hero," Ryan said, who wants to follow in his older brother's footsteps. Renaldo Martinez, 10 years Ryan's senior, served in Afghanistan as a Marine.

Ryan's family surrounded him in love on one of the biggest nights in his life. He thought about one relative who wasn't able to attend. His grandmother, Vernell Brown, died his junior year. She wanted to live to see Ryan graduate, and in her own way she did.

"I know that she's watching this from heaven," he said.

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