ROSSFORD, Ohio (WTVG) - For many students in Penta Career Center's "Aspire" program the path to graduation wasn't easy.
"It took a long time for me to get here, but I did it," said student Shikina Chenault.
Thursday, their determination paid off as they earned the diplomas they worked so hard for.
"It takes a lot to be here and I appreciate everything that Penta has done to get me where I am today," said student Whitney Hood.
Students like Hood earned their GED after dropping out of high school more than 10 years ago.
"It's hard, you know, growing up in a single family," said Hood. "So I had to basically get out there and strive and do what I had to do, and that led me to not completing high school."
Like many of the new graduates, Hood says she wanted to get her diploma to provide a better life for her kids.
"I don't want them to grow up not knowing, you know, good qualities in adulthood," said Hood. "I want to show them what it is to be successful."
Other graduates say they were inspired to get back to class to pursue new careers and better themselves.
"My dad, he was a surgical technician and he worked at St. Vincent's Hospital for over 25 years, and I watched him go back and forth to the hospital and that's what made me do nursing school," said Chenault.
To help students get to graduation day, Penta places teachers in communities all across Northwest Ohio, including 21 locations in Lucas County.
The school even partners with more than a dozen community leaders to connect students with additional training beyond graduation.
"A majority of jobs that exist today require training beyond high school," said Penta Career Center Superintendent Ron Matter. "Whether that's a credential, a certificate, or a two or four year degree or somewhere in between."
After beating the odds and making to graduation the new graduates say they're ready for a new lease on life.
"My family they'll have things and me, personally, I'll have a better roof over my head for my kids and we'll live a better life," said Chenault.