Graduation prompts mixed emotions

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Eighteen-year-old senior Isaiah Dawson has faced a few challenges on his path to graduation. In four years, he had attended five different high schools, three in Albuquerque, then Clovis and Portales, he said.

“I’ve just been bouncing around,” Dawson said.

Dawson, along with, 141 of his Portales High School classmates, will participate in commencement exercises at 7 p.m. today at Greyhound Arena.

Not only has Dawson completed high school, he has done it on his own, literally. At the age of 17, Dawson moved out and has been supporting himself with two jobs. Over the past several months, Dawson has put in 60-plus hours a week, working at Wal-Mart and Pizza Hut, he said.

“I’m just happy I’m done. I didn’t think I was going to graduate,” Dawson said.

Though he has missed school due to his jobs, he has managed to maintain a grade point average of approximately 3.0. Dawson was able to accomplish this by doing homework on his breaks at work, he said.

“I made sure I kept caught up,” Dawson said.

He says, being on his own has been difficult at times.

“At times it can be good having only yourself to answer to and other times you wish you had someone else to be there,” he said. “You just miss having someone to push you.”

Dawson will soon be leaving Portales for Albuquerque where he will be a football walk-on for the University of New Mexico, where he plans to attend college and major in business, he said.

Active in choir, band, drama and Family, Consumer and Career Leaders of America, and Teen Court, Erica McGill has had a busy high school career. That will all be in the past as she graduates and sets out on the next step of her life’s journey.

“I’m nervous,” McGill said. “I’m so sad, I really don’t want to go.
McGill won’t have much time to dwell on being nervous as she prepares to travel to Albuquerque in June to participate in a summer health and science program at UNM.

The program will last until the fall semester starts. From there, McGill will enroll at UNM as she pursues her dream of going to medical school and entering the medical profession, she said.