Education

‘Once a Bruin, always a Bruin.’ Bayshore students reflect on the journey to graduation

Bayshore Principal Wendell Butler congratulates the Class of 2019

Quoting Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday evening, the principal of Bayshore High School told graduates to be a light in the world.
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Quoting Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday evening, the principal of Bayshore High School told graduates to be a light in the world.

Three seniors at Bayshore High School overcame their fear of the unknown, finding the strength to earn a diploma and speak at Friday night’s graduation ceremony.

Darialy Alvarez was born in Cuba, and though she was surrounded by social and economic hardships, she also had a mother who knew the value of hope. Her mother always looked to the future, and she helped Alvarez do the same.

“If I was to stay in Cuba, I would have never gotten the education I would have liked,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been given so many opportunities. I wouldn’t be able to speak up for what I believe.”

They eventually moved to Bolivia in search of greater freedoms and opportunities. Alvarez adapted to a new environment and culture, and though life was better, her mother continued to dream. She followed that dream to the United States.

After living in Miami for several years, Alvarez and her mother moved once more. They landed in Bradenton, and despite her fear of unfamiliar faces, Alvarez found the opportunity she desired at Bayshore.

Fighting back tears at the Bradenton Area Convention Center on Friday evening, she expressed how proud she was of her fellow seniors and urged them to never stop dreaming.

“Try to be open-minded to ideas and be the change this world needs to see,” Alvarez said to the crowd of 280 graduates.

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Raneya Kelly, one of nearly 300 seniors at Bayshore High School’s graduation, takes her big walk at the Bradenton Area Convention Center on May 17, 2019. Giuseppe Sabella gsabella@bradenton.com

Graduating senior Daniel Haley made an unexpected move when his family traveled across town, away from the high school his brother attended, and into the zone for Bayshore. Haley knew few people in the area, and he knew even less about the school.

“I walked around for at least 10 minutes, hopelessly looking for a friend until I found someone I knew from football,” he said. “It’s crazy to think how many people I’ve met and how many friends I’ve made since then.”

Learning your weaknesses, he said, is just as important as finding your strengths. After studying calculus, he found that civil engineering might be the wrong career path, but he discovered a talent for music, athletics and other areas of study.

While he was reluctant to attend the school at first, he enjoyed opportunities that only Bayshore could provide.

“Don’t make excuses and blame others for your lack of success,” he said. “Everyone has setbacks and hardships, but what makes people successful is the ability to push through adversity, stay positive and learn from their mistakes.”

Gabriela Guardiola, another Cuban immigrant, moved to the U.S. when she was 2 years old. Her family sought a better life, and no life is without hardships, laughter and growth. She experienced it all with the students at Bayshore.

She encouraged fellow graduates to set goals, acknowledge their fears and persevere. Friday was the last time they enjoyed a room together, but their shared experience would last a lifetime.

“Never forget your roots,” she said. “Once a Bruin, always a Bruin.”

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