CINCINNATI -- Fifty local students determined to earn their high school diplomas haven't let barriers of abuse, neglect or separation block their paths.
As part of the 15th annual Celebrations of Dreams, Hamilton County Job and Family Services will host a dinner and awards ceremony for the now high school graduates. The festivities are set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley.
"To me, it's like a really big deal because I didn't think I'd make it this far," Shaquielle Crutchfield said.
While he was growing up, Crutchfield moved from foster home to foster home, and even had an adoption fall through. He lashed out during those difficult times, but turned that fight into fortitude with encouragement from teachers and mentors.
Crutchfield is all set to soon open his first college textbook.
"I'm going to school to be a social worker at UC Blue Ash," he said. "So I want to help kids like me, in other words. I hope that I can be someone that they can reach out to."
The ceremony will honor each graduate with a new diploma, and thank those who have lent them a helping hand along the way.
Hamilton County Job and Family Services spokesman Brian Gregg is delighted to see the students' achievements and joys of success.
"Many of these kids were put in bad situations, taken from their homes and placed in foster care," Gregg said. "Some of them shuttled between schools and they stuck it out."