Southern graduate faces adversity to earn diploma
BATON ROUGE- More than 200 new Southern University graduates are starting the next chapter in their future today.
But Jermany Woodley's past is much different from most of his classmates who got their diplmas at this morning's commencement ceremony.
"When I was born my mother was 14 and my father was 15," he said.
Woodley's grandmother stepped in to raise him while his mom finished high school. Education is something Jermany later excelled in.
"I actually graduated valedictorian in my high school class," he says.
However, his bright future was threatened by tragedy.
"At the age of 13 my father was killed in a car accident, and years after that my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer," explains Woodley.
Jeremany's grandma says she wouldn't let anything stop her from seeing him walk across the stage.
"The doctor said ‘What do you want to do?" I just told him I want to live for my grandchildren. That really gave me the strength to go on," says Faye McBride. " Right now I'm cancer-free."
To pay for his education at Southern, Woodley beat out more than 20,000 applicants to receive the Bill Gates Scholarship. The award is given to only 1,000 students across the country every year.
Both Woodley's mom and grandmother said he's gone way beyond anything they could have imagined him to become, and he's not finished yet.
"I want to make a difference in my family, I want to make a difference in my community, I want to make a difference in the whole world," says Woodley.
Woodley completed a degree in accounting at Southern, and is applying to graduate programs. He says he hopes to open his own business one day.