Our Neighbor: Destination: Graduation

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by CYNTHIA IZAGUIRRE / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on November 24, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 1 at 12:43 PM

DALLAS — Miriam Martinez is about to embark on the journey of her life. The Thomas Jefferson High School senior was recently accepted to Harvard University.

Miriam comes from a lower income family, and she credits the Destination: Graduation program with helping her not only to graduate, but to be accepted into an Ivy League college.

"My dream is to graduate from Harvard and maybe come home and buy a house for my parents," she said.

Destination: Graduation is an initiative through the United Way. They partner with different agencies to provide Dallas and Collin County students with mentoring, college preparation and parental involvement courses.

"What we're doing every day at schools like Thomas Jefferson is improve these kids' lives," said Gary Godsey, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas president and CEO. "Look at their parents; look at their faces; look at what they're aspiring to."

The United Way teamed up with The Princeton Review to help students prepare for their SAT exams. Maria Ramirez is headed to the University of Texas thanks to the course.

"I got my scores back," she said. "My mom took the paper away from me and we started screaming! It was funny!"

Marcus Cooksey graduated from Spruce High School in Dallas and wanted to give back. He mentors Gary Shelby through the Destination: Graduation program.

"He's helped me in the way that most people can't, because I barely understand most of the time," Gary said. "He actually explains it to my level instead of bringing it higher than what I can understand."

Just a few years ago, Miriam Martinez could never have imagined getting a scholarship to any university, much less Harvard. But with the help she received from the Destination: Graduation program, she did it.

That's why Our Neighbor salutes everyone involved with United Way's program.

If you'd like to help with this special program, or if you know someone we could feature in a future Our Neighbor report, please contact me at the e-mail address below.

E-mail cizzy@wfaa.com

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