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Teen Life And What It Takes To Graduate

Everyone agrees that graduation is a crucial milestone on the path to adulthood. And according to a recent Education Week report, the national graduation rate has actually increased to nearly 75 percent – a level not seen since the 1970s.

But that still means that one in four students aren’t finishing school, and even the ones that do graduate can have a pretty tough time.

Take Ashley Tilley. After her mentally ill mom walked out on 5-year-old Ashley and her sister, they spent years bouncing around foster care. Despite all that, Ashley flourished in school and won a full-ride scholarship to TCU, where she begins classes this month.

Or take Scottie Gipson. His childhood was shaped by a father’s frequent stints in prison. He dropped out at 15, supporting himself by selling drugs. Scottie now works full time and just returned to school with the encouragement of his sister, uncle and girlfriend. He attends classes at the Lewisville Learning Center and is on track to graduate in December.

On Students Speak Out: An American Graduate Special, we’ll hear from Ashley, Scottie, and four other students who know what it takes to finish school. The KERA special program airs on KERA TV on August 28.

Former KERA staffer Jeff Whittington was executive producer for special projects and Think, as well as host of Anything You Ever Wanted to Know. He also created and launched the KXT Live Sessions series for KXT 91.7.