Bridget Reyes, 17, is one of several Marietta High School seniors and nearly 10,000 in the county on track to graduate May 25.
“My mother graduated from high school but my dad didn’t,” she said. “It’s good knowing that I can do so much better than what my family in the past has done and they expect that from me.”
Reyes has been accepted into Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville and will start school this fall. She hopes to one day work for a non-profit that educates families in the Hispanic community or to become a teacher.
“It’s nice to take that extra level and be a role model for my siblings,” she said.
Reyes has a younger brother, Ricardo Jr., who is a ninth-grader and a little sister, Bianca, who is a kindergartener. They were all born and raised in Marietta.
The soon-to-be 18-year-old has been heavily involved in Marietta YELLS and HOPE.
Marietta YELLS, which stands for Youth Empowerment through Learning, Leadership and Serving, is an organization that Reyes joined in 10th grade.
It’s a mentoring program that works closely with families living in the apartment complexes off Franklin Road.
During her sophomore year, Reyes helped start the community garden at Ashton Place apartments and has continued to grow the program.
“We’re aiming to do a food market in the summer, just to be able to give away our harvest in a fun way,” she said.
Laura Keefer, a former Marietta High teacher and the executive director of Marietta YELLS, said Reyes has been an incredible asset to the program.
“She is pretty much the model of what we want a ‘big’ to be in our program,” Keefer said.
Reyes is a mentor for a student at Lockheed Elementary who is considered her “little.”
Keefer said Reyes was a initially a little hesitant about taking charge and getting involved because of her skill level but has really turned a new leaf and become a leader.
“It’s fantastic that she gives back to the community that she comes from and shows them the importance of education and giving back and making a difference,” Keefer said. “She is just sort of an example of empowerment from people within that community, too.”
In her continued efforts to encourage education within the Hispanic community, Reyes also started the first Marietta High School chapter of a program called HOPE, which stands for Hispanic Organization Promoting Education.
She learned about it while attending a college fair in Gwinnet County.
“We’ve been pretty successful,” she said.
The group promotes the importance of education by having flash mobs, soccer tournaments, cultural fashion shows and lock-ins.
The organization’s mission is to increase the graduation rate. They meet about three times a month to discuss ways to do so.
Marietta High School is scheduled to conduct its annual graduation ceremony on May 25 at 9 a.m. at Northcutt Stadium off Polk Street. A full list of other area public and private school graduation ceremonies can be found online with a link to this story at mdjonline.com.