SALT LAKE CITY — It has been a pretty strange end of the school year for Utah seniors graduating from high school. This is the time when they would have been walking across the stage in front of friends and family to accept their diploma, including one Salt Lake City teen living in foster care who overcame incredible odds to graduate.
Rose Briones never really had family, and she is still succeeding.
Riding her longboard down the street, Briones looks like any other high schooler. But this 17-year-old has faced more challenges than most do in a lifetime.
“I was 15 when I entered foster care,” Briones said.
Since then, she has moved four times.
“I would say that each foster home has matured me,” she said.
Briones had been looking forward to all the pomp and circumstance that comes with graduation.
“I was really fantasizing about a traditional graduation from when I was probably a sophomore,” she said.
Instead of the ceremony, she and some friends headed to southern Utah to celebrate.
Rose said her biological parents never made it through high school, so the milestone was especially meaningful.
“Being in foster care and my mom being imprisoned is really hard because I’m by myself,” she said.
She received her diploma on Thursday.
“Probably the most important part was when I got to take a picture of my grandma with me,” she said.
In about a month, Briones will leave foster care and be on her own.
“I’m a little scared because everything around here is pretty expensive,” she said.
Briones has big plans. She wants to be a flight paramedic and has already been accepted to the University of Utah.
Her journey has been tough, but it’s molded her into who she is today.
“Realizing that I’m not the only person in the world who goes through struggles has kind of helped me,” she said.
Briones said she’s looking ahead with hope after checking this giant accomplishment off her list.
“I’m so excited for the future,” she said with a smile. “I’m excited for college, I’m excited to travel — to just be a whole new person. I felt it yesterday when I was graduating. This is a new chapter in my life.”