05/11/06 — WCC will honor first round of graduates tonight

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WCC will honor first round of graduates tonight

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 11, 2006 1:51 PM

Desiree Zuniga missed too much school taking care of her dying mother and her 18-month-old sister to finish the 10th grade.

Angry at the world two months after quitting Charles B. Aycock High School, the 15-year old entered the high school diploma program at Wayne Community College.

"I didn't want to quit," she said. "I was determined not to be behind."

Tonight, she will complete that promise to herself when she receives her high school diploma at the Wayne Community College graduation ceremony.

The ceremony, which will honor about 288 students who have completed their GED requirements and 95 who will graduate from adult high school, will begin at 6:30 p.m. tonight. The graduation is outside, but if it rains, the graduation will move into the Moffatt Auditorium and begin at 7:30 p.m.

Desiree said she is glad she decided to pursue her diploma.

"They have a really awesome program here," she said.

It's been a difficult two years, working three jobs at a time through the duration of the classes without a driver's license, which she finally got April 18.

With no transportation to class, she relied on her boyfriend, Greg Bradley, to get back and forth, and on other classmates when their schedules clashed.

He, too, is graduating tonight from the high school diploma program.

"You couldn't always be on time. It was absolutely distracting," she said.

But she persevered, determined to continue her education so she could help people like her mother, Penny Kincaid, who died one week after her 34th birthday.

Her next step might be entering the registered nurse program -- she will decide that later.

For now, she thinks about achieving her goals -- and the little sister she must be a role model for, and who helps her as well.

Kailey Kincaid, will be 4 years old in August.

"She knew her ABC's by the time she turned 2," Desiree said. "She taught me a word, actually."

"Do you know what frugal means?" Kailey asked. "It means being stingy with your money."

Desiree isn't sure where her education will lead her, but she is proud of the path she has taken to get there. And her mother is not far from her mind.

"I can see myself working with people who have cancer and talking to their children about their struggles, losing their parents," she said. "I've been thinking about it a lot today, weighing it all out. I definitely want to go into the medical field."