SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – “There were times I didn’t think I would ever see this day,” Adult High School graduate Jennifer Pena told her classmates shortly before receiving her diploma at last week’s graduation ceremony.
Pena, who gave the commencement address, was 21 when she started the program. She spoke about her struggles before deciding to return to school, and she explained what pushed her to graduate: “I have two little girls I want to be proud of me.”
Like Pena, most of the school’s thirty one graduates are in their twenties. Many work full-time jobs, and some have families to support.
Yet at least one student, Consuelo Mosqurea, made the time to attend every class, which earned her the school’s perfect-attendance award.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Nicole Pormilli said the key to this type of success is “passion and perseverance,” telling the graduates not to lose sight of these two attributes as they move forward.
“You need to set goals and take steps to achieve those goals,” Pormilli said. “Never give up.”
Pormilli also told the class not to be afraid to fail. She pointed to Abraham Lincoln as an example of someone who often failed in realizing his ambitions early on, but then attained great success. “Failure did not deter him from achieving his dream.”
Mayor Matthew Anesh offered similar advice about success, saying that much of it comes from hard work.
“There really is no secret recipe,” the mayor said. “It’s an unknown combination of hard work, the right skill set and a keen sense of being in the right place at the right time.”