PALMETTO -- When she was a little girl growing up in Bradenton, Laura Hay was determined to succeed at everything she tried.
In fact, one time at the Manatee County Fair, she made her family keep shelling out coins so she could climb a ladder and win a stuffed bear.
"She's always been determined," Lynn Hay said
Sunday of her 27-year-old daughter, who grew up on 51st Street West and attended Palma Sola Elementary and King Middle. "If she wants something, she goes and gets it."
Hay, who graduated from Manatee High School in 2003, was one of 245 who received degrees during The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Bradenton campus's 5th commencement Sunday at the Manatee Convention Center.
Now Laura Labrador -- she married Loren Labrador, Manatee High Class of 2002 two years ago -- Laura was one of 94 who earned a doctor of pharmacy degree.
Laura has worked for the last seven years in the CVS drug store pharmacy at U.S. Highway 41 and Bayshore Gardens, but, starting Monday, her title will be graduate intern.
"I started off out of high school wanting to be an accountant," Labrador said moments before graduation Sunday. "I got my associates degree from State College of Florida and enrolled in the business school at the University of South Florida for one year."
But it was perhaps her family legacy that changed her mind.
Lynn Hay is a breast cancer survivor and a medical technologist. Laura's father, John, is a nurse and retired firefighter.
"My mom actually suggested pharmacy school," Labrador said.
Watching her mother battle cancer years ago, when Laura was 10, left an impression, Laura said.
"It was hard and after it was over, we did a lot of volunteer work with the American Cancer Society," Labrador said. "I feel my heart is with helping others."
Lynn Hay, sitting next to her mother, Leona Ridner at the graduation, saw her little Laura, once nicknamed 'Laura Longlegs,' stride confidently across the stage, an accomplished young woman.
"I tried not to cry," Hay said. "I'm very proud of her."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.