On a poster in the Federal Government building, a young mother holds her daughter. The text says that the daughter will probably graduate before the mother does.

For Maria Fernandez, that possibility came very close to becoming a reality. But Fernandez did finish high school and, with 60 other students of the Provo Adult High School, she finally received her diploma Tuesday."I am a Hispanic, single parent - divorced and I speak English as a second language. Not a lot to offer when you are looking for a job. I had to pass a lot of obstacles to get here. Last year my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness and my daughter got pregnant. I would go on telling you my problems, but we would be here all night," she said.

However, Fernandez feels she is lucky because she has a high school diploma.

"I beat the odds and I did it. I'm not only going to be a grandmother in one month, but I am going to have a diploma," she said.

The graduation ceremony celebrated the completion of three separate programs in Utah Valley. It was a graduation for the Provo Adult High School and for high school students from Nebo and Provo School Districts who finished high school while attending college.

Gayle Chandler, school board vice-president for the Provo School District, told the graduates not to underestimate themselves.

"When you reach a level of achievement, don't assume that you got there by being lucky. Assume that you are capable and set your sights a little higher," she said. "This is a great achievement in your life, and you should celebrate. We are all very proud of you."


(Additional information)

Adult High School Provo and Nebo School Districts

Held at: Utah Valley Community College Provo Campus

Theme: "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." - Jules Verne

Number of graduates: 62

Student speaker: Maria Fernandez