Challenges no obstacle to Tracy Adult School graduates
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
May 31, 2013 | 2323 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Adult School commencement
Tracy Adult School student speaker Jose Ricardo Piura motivates his fellow graduates during the graduation ceremony at the Tracy Community Center on Friday, May 24. He called their quest to graduate a journey and not a race. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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After overcoming adversity in their lives, 66 students of the Tracy Adult School completed their high school graduation requirements and received their diplomas Friday, May 24.

Students dressed in their caps and gowns gathered in the hallway of the Tracy Community Center, 950 East St., eager to take the steps they had dreamed about to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

“I never thought this day would come,” said 21-year-old graduate Ricky Dhillon, who waited with a classmate, Jose Ricardo Piura, for the ceremony to begin. “Thanks to my friend Jose. We pushed each other and came to this day together.”

Piura, 19, was the student speaker for the high school Class of 2013.

“This is a day where one chapter of our lives ends,” he told the graduates and onlookers, “making way for another to begin in the book of our lives.”

He spoke about the poor choices early in high school that sent him down the wrong path. He couldn’t see his own potential, he said, until changes in his life led him to enroll in the adult school to pursue his diploma.

“I have found my willpower, motivation and drive,” Piura said. “I have learned this is a journey and not a race. Things fall apart to fall together, and everything happens for a reason.”

To graduate with his class, Piura had to complete 25 courses within a year, which is triple the normal course load. His efforts would normally take three to four years to achieve.

Piura said it was difficult, but it was a goal he was determined to fulfill.

“It feels good,” he said. “It was difficult. I had to go night and day to take five credits every two weeks to get to this point. I’m feeling emotions, achievement — it’s another chapter.”

In addition to 66 students who received their high school diplomas, 14 students graduated from the Adult Basic Education program. They were awarded certificates for completing their eighth-grade education.

The director of the school, Dave Pickering, said graduation day is always a fulfilling experience for him. He said many adult school students manage the challenges of substance abuse, unemployment, becoming parents at a young age and holding down full-time jobs.

“The great thing about graduating is that it changes their lives,” Pickering said. “We try to help them. We’re always here — the lights are always on.”

Graduate Deborah Oyao, 30, is one of the students who split her time between school and full-time work to earn her diploma.

“I’m very proud of myself,” she said. “It was hectic. A lot of times I had to work eight to nine hours, go to school and get up the next day and do it all over again. The goal is to never give up.”

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or

Tracy Adult School Class of 2013

High school

Agredano, Alberto

Alvarez Rodriguez, Martin

Amaral, Nelson Paul

Arranaga, Gabriella Suzanne

Arreola-Regalado, Miguel

Asefi, Khalid

Banks, Mariah Victoria

Bauhofer, Brittany Brea

Blackwell, Cole Alexxander

Booth, Austin Edward

Bravo, Maria Teresa

Burrell, Solomon C.

Camargo-Villalpando, Griselda

Capella, Stephen

Casillas, Monica Marie Valenzuela

Chaidez, Maricela

Dhillon, Ricky

Donahue, Dezerei S.

Esquivel, Cesar Manuel

Facciola, Philip Maurice III

Fernandez, Amanda J.

Flores, David Jr.

Garcia, Anaisa I.

Garcia, Mayra G.

Gatdula, Kenneth L.

Gatmaitan, Allen Christian Regacho

Gonzalez, Elizabeth Ann

Harper, Jonathan Nicholas

Hernandez, Brenda

Hernandez-Cabrera, Julia Cathlene

Hernandez, Luis A.

Horiuchi, Kumiko E.

Hughes, Ruth Naomi

Johnson, Bobbie

Johnson, Roselle

Kaur, Ramanjit

Maez, Christopher Henry

Martinez, Jesse

Martinez, Tammy

Mifsud, Tracy

Muelker, Brianna N.

Owings, Amber Michelle

Oyao, Deborah

Piura, Jose Ricardo

Portillo, Ana Karen

Ramos, Maridesa T.

Rangel Angiano, Leslie Marisol

Rosales, Rosezana R.

Shishido, Stefano N.

Silva, Yoshi M.

Steffes, Johnathan Cordell

Stewart, Ruben

Stewart, Sara L.

Tafolla, Marisol

Thompson, Fangeau

Vaca, Mariela

Vazquez, Alma Alejandra

Vazquez, Luis Alberto

Velazquez, Julio Aldo

Vigil, Johnny

Warren, Monica

Williams, Andrew

Wilson, Antane

Wilson, Jeweline LeeAnn

Wolfrom, Curtis P.

Adult Basic Education

Baro, Cecilia

Botros, Mary

Castaneda, Martha R.

Castillo, Rolando

Cazares, Maria De Jesus

Cruz, Francisco

de Osorio, Wendy Garcia

Del Real, Maricela

Pinilla, Leonardo

Rodriguez, Edibray

Rosu, Cristina

Soto, Edith

Toste, Firmino

Vilalta, Carmen
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