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Bloomington grads grateful for family support

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

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

Bobcat Class OF 2012

• Graduating Class Size: 33

• Class Song: "Today is your Day," by Shania Twain

• Class Motto: Let us keep climbing even higher; never fearing the step that is next, for our goal is in our grasp, just beyond our hopes and dreams.

How has your family supported you?

"They've always encouraged me to graduate from school and give me the life they've never had. They wanted what was best for me."

Alicia Lisa Baladez, 18,

going to Victoria College to study nursing

"My parents are proud of me, and they are helping me with college."

Jessica Marie Almaguer, 18,

going to Victoria College to study nursing

"They've just backed up the whole way. Every Friday, they were at my football games."

Johnathan O'Neil Garner, 18,

going to Blinn College to study kinesiology

"They've always been there and going to my games. They made me do work."

Brian Andrew Ledeay, 18, going to Victoria College to become a physical therapist and personal trainer

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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