WASCO, Calif. (KGET) — Few members of the class of 2020 have traveled as tough of a road as Ryan Rodriguez.
The 36-year-old father of two has waited 20 years to finally call himself a high school graduate.
“It was a constant nagging doubt in the back of my mind that kept me from growing,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was a senior at Shafter High School in the year of 2000 when an unforeseen tragedy struck.
“A good friend of mine was killed, and that just sent me to like a depression that I was unable to recover from,” said Rodriguez.
Already struggling with his grades, Rodriguez went through a dark period, and he dropped out of school with less than a month until graduation.
A decision that would weigh heavily on him the next two decades of his life.
“It was something that made me feel inadequate,” said Rodriguez.
Over the next decade, he would attempt to go back and get his GED multiple times. However, each attempt ended with the same gut-wrenching result, which left Rodriguez resigning to live with that regret.
“I found myself hiding the fact that I didn’t graduate because I was so embarrassed,” said Rodriguez.
However, an opportunity found the safety supervisor in the form of a stay-at-home order.
Rodriguez decided to use the pandemic to hunker down and start doing the homework assignments.
“There was just an awakening in my heart to tell me… This is your time, this is your opportunity and you need to take it,” said Rodriguez.
His wife, Amanda, noticed a difference this time around.
“I could see that he was really motivated this time to get it done,” said his wife, Amanda.
Thus, Rodriguez finally graduated from high school 20 years after his first attempt.
“This was my time to do some positive, do some positive in my life, and in my family’s life,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez especially wanted to inspire his two kids.
“I want them to know that their dad is somebody that finishes what he starts,” said Rodriguez.