CHAPEL HILL – East Chapel Hill High School principal, Eileen Tully celebrated two people at Saturday’s graduation with the Principal’s Choice for the hurdles they overcame during their time as Wildcats and throughout their life.

Michael Arneson overcame a traumatic brain injury, cancer, and his family’s house was struck by lightning and caught fire all while in high school. Through all that, he was still able to earn one of the 19 valedictorian spots.

“Your past is behind you, and it will always stay there no matter what you do,” Arneson says. “You can only change your future, and that’s all you should try to do.”

Jeimy Martinez shared with those in attendance her story of how her family faced being forced out of the country since it arrived in the United States undocumented when she was one. Her brother was deported when she was a sophomore.

“I am an American, a high school graduate, a scholarship recipient to Barton College, a future nurse,” Martinez says. “I am determined, passionate, and definitely an adventurous person.”

But those weren’t the only stories told by East Chapel Hill graduates Saturday morning. The stories were shared in English, Spanish, and Latin.

East Chapel Hill gained 350 alumni who will now move on to continue their academic career, serve our country in one of the armed forces, or head directly to the employment field.

***Listen to the Full Commencement Ceremony***