LUBBOCK, Texas — Michelle Hernandez worked hard to call herself a highschool graduate.

Hernandez dropped out of high school back in 1996. She fell in love, and starting a family at a young age pushed her education to the back burner.   

Hernandez always thought about going back, but she never took the idea seriously until she had a teen enter high school. 

Hernandez’s son, Jaycen Pauda, during his junior year began falling behind in his studies. So, they looked into programs to help catch him up. Hernadez was surprised when she found out Matthews Alternative High School offers courses for all ages. 

After two decades of being out of school, Hernandez enrolled into night courses and is now completing her high school career. 

“It’s just been amazing,”Hernandez said. “That one yes is going to turn into many yeses.” 

Turning in her last final at the end of June, Hernandez is scheduled to collect her high school diploma in August. All of it was made possible, according to Hernandez, because of Matthew’s continuing education program. 

“It’s really just a great school,” Hernandez said. “The teachers and the staff.. They’re all loving and kind, they help. They even have child care.” 

But the real inspiration was Hernandez’s son, Jaycen Pauda. Hernandez strived to set a positive example for her son to value education. 

“I think it really helped him to not only see me,” Hernandez said. “I was showing him and I was leading by example.”

Pauda knows his mom did something that many people only talk about doing. 

“I’m sure there are a lot of parents that wouldn’t take the time to do what she did,” Pauda said. 

what it feels like to accomplish something she’s wanted for such a long time. 

Hernandez’s courage and perseverance encouraged her son, but also the whole family. 

“I had 2 other sisters that came along from Lubbock High. They joined the program, and they both graduated through Matthews,” Hernandez said.