Operation Graduation 2014 Winners Announced!

Date: November 12, 2014

A guest post from Ombudsman’s Chief Operating Officer Rudolph Flores.

I am excited to announce the winners of Operation Graduation 2014, and before I do, I would like to recognize the operations managers, center directors and center staff who made it possible for the Class of 2014 to earn their high school diplomas.

Thanks to our staff for inspiring our graduates to reflect on what their diplomas mean to them, their futures and their families. Each student essay and video reminded me of how important it is to provide an alternate route to graduation for our students – and how vital the roles of operations manager, director and teacher are to the success of our students.

We received nearly 50 essay and video submissions this year from graduates in 12 centers. Special thanks to staff at the following centers who took time to collect essays and film interviews during last year’s busy graduation season: Limestone, Ala.; Tucson and Phoenix, Ariz.; and DeKalb, Dundee, Rockford and Chicago, Ill.

Now, on to our winners! Click below to read their inspiring winning essays:

Grand Prize, Dell Inspiron 15 Laptop: Christian Vargas (DeKalb, Ill.)
Excerpt: “Ombudsman literally saved my life! It changed the ways how my dad saw me, and changed those that doubted me. It made me have the courage to go on. It is the stepping stones to success, and to move on from my past. Ombudsman did so me that I can go on and become something in the near future.”

Grand Prize, Dell Inspiron 15 Laptop: Terisa Skaggs (Dundee, Ill.)
Excerpt: “Before Ombudsman I was in an out of hospitals, attended a rehab facility, and was contemplating whether I even wanted to finish school at all. I am pleased to say I will graduate this year. There to see me will be many who doubted me, very proud an in my hand a greatly appreciated and well deserved diploma.”

First Runner-Up, iPad Air: Stephanie Salgado (Tucson, Ariz.)
Excerpt: “I was scared that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to earn my High School diploma. Since then, I have faced other obstacles in my life but I have overcome all of them with the help of my family and the staff at Ombudsman Valencia and Central. I’ve learned that I am good enough, I am smart enough and I can accomplish great things if I work hard enough.”

Second Runner-Up, iPad Air: Zumeeka Hardy (Limestone, Ala.)
Excerpt: “I want to give a big thanks to the Ombudsman staff because I believe if it wasn’t for this place I wouldn’t have made it out of high school and I appreciate everything they have done and helped me with. They showed me individuality and they encouraged me to strive to be better for me and my son and for that I will always admire them and show them gratitude for helping me and everybody else to succeed and make it in life.”

Third Runner-Up, Kindle Fire: Landon Kyle (Limestone, Ala.)
Excerpt: “After I leave here, I’ll be done with school, and I’ll have a diploma. I’m the first person in my family who can say that. That’s always been pretty important to me, and it also allows me to follow my dream of join the Marine Corps. I hope to make a career out of that and save up enough money along the way so that I can start my own business.”

Fourth Runner-Up, Kindle Fire: Jaythan Thatch (Limestone, Ala.)
Excerpt: “The work at Ombudsman is challenging but I get help. Math has always been difficult for me. To be honest, I earned all my math credits in my 3 years here. Shout out to Ms. Andrews; she had a lot of patience for me. …. To my fellow graduates, “A vision without action is merely a dream.”

Essays from these students rounded out our Top 10:

I encourage our center staff members to keep these graduates’ words top of mind as we begin the school year. I hope they will serve as motivation to keep up the great work as we work toward graduating the Class of 2014!

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