Building a Road to Success
The road seemed bleak for 17-year old Giavanna Rivera-Mohammed but she was determined not to let anything bring her down. Chosen as one of the 2010 Great Graduates, she is graduating from Cypress Creek High School this spring with honors from the prestigious International Baccalaureate Program.
Giavanna was born in Washington D.C. but moved back and forth between Florida and New York most of her life. Homeless and living in New York with her mother Hilda, she had to move from shelter to shelter while facing extreme economic hardship.
Hilda Rivera was determined not to let her daughter’s future hurt because of their present situation. While Giavanna attended elementary school, Hilda went back to school and moved both of them to Florida to start a brand new life.
“At the time I really didn’t know where we were living was a shelter,” Giavanna said. “I knew that we weren’t doing so well financially but my mom made it seem as if it wasn’t so difficult.”
Giavanna applied for the International Baccalaureate Program at Cypress Creek High School during her freshman year. The competitive program was designed to challenge students in college level classes while helping them earn college credit.
Now a senior in High School, she plans on attending the University of Florida and majoring in mechanical engineering.
Giavanna and her mother Hilda are still struggling financially. However, with the help of her counselor Linda Shaddix, she has been able to stay focused and not give up, earning a 100-percent scholarship to college.
“As I learned her story and everything she’s been through, I think about how many kids face obstacles and sort of throw up their hands and give up,” Shaddix said. “She scratched and clawed and did what she had to do to make it. I admire that so much and wish I could give a little bit of that to all my other students.”
Giavanna believes that it’s important to stay positive and not let your goals become unreachable. It’s the advice she gives other students in similar circumstances.
“Stay focused to obtain your goal,” she said. “If you are in a difficult situation, you are eventually going to get out of it, so don’t get discouraged. I’m really happy with where I am right now in life.”
As for Linda Shaddix, she believes Giavanna’s future is just starting.
“I can’t wait to see how her life unfolds; she’s got so much potential and is such a good person that I just know its going to be exciting and wonderful,” said Shaddix.
By Fernanda Barros