Brandon Hobart had one quarter to go when he dropped out of Pasco High School in 2009.
The 21-year-old Kennewick man said he didn't have his head on straight and wasn't a good student. Not many people were optimistic about his future.
"I had quite a few teachers saying I wouldn't do well," he said.
Friday night, he and his 19-year-old brother, Derek Horsfall, joined 140 graduates of Columbia Basin College's General Educational Development, or GED, and high school completion programs to be honored and receive their diplomas.
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"I told (Horsfall), it's not a high school diploma, but we're graduating," Hobart said.
The graduates of the Pasco college and their families said they all had their challenges in getting their high school education but pushed to achieve it to help themselves and their careers.
"There's no sweeter moment for us than a commencement ceremony because there's nothing we like to see more than people achieving their goals," CBC President Rich Cummins told the packed gymnasium at CBC's Pasco campus.
While the bulk of Friday's graduates participated in CBC's GED program, Cummins said 562 people throughout Benton and Franklin counties passed the GED test this school year.
It was a raucous event, with families whistling and cheering as their graduate walked up to school officials to receive their diploma. Graduates ranged in age and included siblings and parents and their own children.
GED graduate Andres Gonzalez, who immigrated from Mexico as a child, said he never finished high school because he had to help financially support his family as the eldest of three children. He quoted basketball player Michael Jordan about how obstacles shouldn't stop you -- you just have to find a way around them.
"I like this quote because of the message it gives us, a message of perseverance," he said.
Michelle Farias, 19, of Kennewick, moved frequently throughout her high school years. She attended three high schools in Kennewick and Richland, and attempted home-schooling before she had to move to California. She needed to hold onto a job, so high school went by the wayside.
She moved back to the Tri-Cities and decided to finish her education. Her aunt, cousins and husband of six months watched and cheered her on from the bleachers Friday.
"Even though I didn't finish high school, I wanted to experience the whole graduation thing," she said.
School officials urged the graduates to not make Friday's festivities their last educational accomplishment.
That definitely won't be the case for Horsfall and Farias. Horsfall, who attended three high schools in Pasco and Kennewick before he dropped out, said he will be attending a summer term at CBC in the welding program.
"I already have scholarships and grants," he said.
Farias said she hasn't decided what she'll end up doing, perhaps studying to be an ultrasound technician. Either way, she plans to continue her education.
"I like going to school. It's just keeping at it," she said.