Dozens of inmates at a juvenile correctional facility watched their hard work pay off Friday.
60 inmates from the Manson Youth Institution graduated with a vocational degree, a GED or a high school diploma.
Channel 3's Erin Connolly spoke with the proud graduates.
Graduate Michael White said it's an important day for him.
"It means everything. I've been waiting for this a long time. Sometimes I thought it might not happen but I never gave up and I kept on going," said White.
The graduates, including Christian Lugo, said they owe their success to the hardworking staff at the facility.
"It's either the streets or becoming somebody and they're pushing me to do that," said Lugo.
Principal Maria Pirro Simmons said the program has changed her life as well.
"I feel like it gives my life meaning. I walk into work every day excited to be here with a smile on my face. I leave everyday excited about I may have accomplished with my students," said Simmons.
Graduate Keypsalm Armstrong said the experience has made him a leader.
"You gotta be a leader, not a follower. I was a follower and now I'm thinking better now and moving better now...now I'm a leader,: said Armstrong.
While their path to a diploma hasn't been a traditional one, the path they choose in the future will make all the difference.
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