5 Inspiring Graduation Stories for 2014

By Gabriella Iannetta
|  Friday, Jun 13, 2014  |  Updated 10:32 AM EDT
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5 Inspiring Graduation Stories for 2014

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It's graduation season — a time for inspiring commencement speeches, proud parents and diplomas.

While graduation is a proud moment for any student, five young men and women had a particularly special day. Here are their stories.

Homeless Valedictorian Goes to Georgetown

A homeless high school valedictorian will be moving out of a Washington, D.C., shelter to pursue her collegiate career at Georgetown University with a full scholarship. Outgoing 18-year-old Rashema Melson faced struggles her whole life: Her father was murdered before her first birthday, and she moved from state to state throughout her childhood.

"For the longest time, I was in the struggle, trying my best, but I started to think it would never be over. I started to give up," she admitted in her commencement speech.

Melson told NBC reporters that the shelter is not her home, but is a stepping stone to the next chapter of her life. With the help of teachers and school faculty, Melson was able to persevere and was accepted to Georgetown, where she will study pre-med. She will start classes in July.

"God gave me a sign. He wasn't putting me through this to punish me but to show others how to be resilient and persistent," she said.

10-Year-Old Graduates From High School

Tanishq Abraham of Sacramento is graduating from high school with a 4.0 GPA, at an age when most kids are still in elementary school.

Tanishq was inducted into Mensa International, a group for people whose IQ is the top 2 percent of the population, when he was just 4.

His favorite thing to do is learn about everything he can, as his astronomy professor Paulo Alfonso can attest. "How many people do you know at the age of 7 or 8 that can discuss the expansion of the universe?" Alfonso asked.

The ambitious Tanishq has a long list of accomplishments he'd like to complete upon graduating — one being "to create a rocket that goes faster that the speed of light." That's not all: Tanishq's Twitter profile describes himself as an aspiring doctor, scientist and U.S. president, NBC Bay Area reported.

For now, his post-grad plan is to attend medical school at the University of California, Davis.

High School Senior Accepted to All 8 Ivies

It's a rare and extraordinary feat for graduating high school seniors to be accepted into any of the eight Ivy League schools: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania.

It's even more extraordinary to be accepted to all eight, as 17-year-old Kwasi Enin was in April.

Enin, a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Ghana, scored 2,250 out of 2,400 on the SAT, according to USA Today, placing him in the 99th percentile. His parents admit to always having been strict with their children's academics.

"I told him, 'Look, your worst grade in school should be a 95,'" his father said at a press conference at Enin's high school on Long Island in New York.

Enin is grateful for his parents' push and said with a smile, "Without their assistance, I would not be in this position. I would not have had the initial drive to strive for excellence."

In May, Enin announced that he will be attending Yale University in the fall, citing its musical focus and financial aid offerings.

Teen Gets a Personal Graduation in the ICU

A Texas high school student spent the last three weeks of his senior year hospitalized in the intensive care unit, after a freak accident in which a car crashed into the McDonald's in which he was sitting.

Amid as many as nine surgeries he had to undergo within that time, Josh Farmer feared he'd miss one of the most important days of his life so far: graduation.

But officials at Lakeview Centennal High School in Garland decided if Farmer couldn't go to the graduation ceremony, graduation would come to him in the hospital.

Principal Angel Rivera, along with Farmer's parents, relatives and friends, filled the ICU to give the high graduate special recognition that was taped by and shown at the commencement ceremony the following day.

Redditors Help Dad Attend Son's Graduation

Relying on the kindness of strangers was the only way one Floridian man was able to see his son graduate from high school.

Earlier this Spring, Troy Branch of Tallahassee was frustrated with the idea that we wouldn't see his son graduate, three hours away in Tavares, because of financial restrictions and an ill-functioning car. Branch had been a Reddit user for over a year when he decided to post on a forum about bucket lists.

"I just threw that out there, that I'd like to see my son graduate," he told TODAY.com.

Branch was shocked at the responses he received. One Reddit user sent Branch a link to MegaBus that had tickets from Tallahassee to Orlando for an affordable $7.50. After he'd booked his trip, a different Redditor gave Branch Holiday Inn points for him to stay at the hotel for free.

The missing piece was getting a ride from Orlando to Tavares, but Reddit users saved the day again. A Redditor who happened to be in the area picked Branch up and drove him just in time for his son's graduation.

"It was amazing to see all these perfect strangers reach out and help," Branch said.

Other users gave Branch up to $300 via PayPal so he could take his two sons out for a celebratory dinner and movie.

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