Class of 2016

RMA graduates thank teachers, families

BRADENTON — ShaCarl Williams remembered feeling despair at the work she had to do to graduate. She thought about dropping out. Her schoolmate Ly’Shawn Williams had a hard time keeping up with his assignments in school.

But both Richard Milburn Academy students decided to stick with it, and looked back at their struggles with pride. Both, along with their fellow seniors, graduated Friday at the First Church of the Nazarene.

Many of them, including seniors Brian Bogue and Tierra Salter, shared their difficult journey to obtain their cap and gown.

“I am 18 years old, and I am one of eight children and the second to graduate,” said Tierra, a graduate speaker, to the audience. “To my siblings, ...stay in school and don’t give up.”

She also encourages her graduating classmates.

“We have accomplished a great goal,” she told them. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

That was also the gist of special guest speaker Lt. John Murrell’s speech. Murrell is the School Resource Officers supervisor with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, a youth pastor and a competitive weight lifter.

“The road may not always be smooth. There will be challenges along the way, and you may stumble on yourselves,” he told the graduating class. “But there are blessings in disguise.”

Tierra and her fellow speakers thanked their teachers, families and each other.

“All my teachers, they all looked out for me and made sure I am on top of my game,” ShaCarl said.

Ly’Shawn dedicated his speech to the two women in his life — his mother and grandmother. His heartfelt gratitude left some teary eyes in the ceremony.

“Grandma, your prayers to keep me alive until graduation has come true,” he said. “Ma, it’s the good God’s blessing I am your son.”

Related stories from Bradenton Herald