As Poway Adult School opened its doors for students finishing up their high school diplomas, one student was an instant stand out. Rodney Lacanienta showed a confidence and eagerness that most other students lacked.
Kathleen Porter, Executive Director for Career Technical, Adult and Alternative Education for Poway Unified School District remembers being inspired by his joyful smile right away. “This happens every day the learning center is open, rain or shine,” said Porter. “It’s hard to believe that there was once a time when the dedication to learning and perseverance to succeed was not his number one priority.”
Rodney is not your typical high school diploma student. Seeing Rodney now, no one would have known about his troubled past. Dropping out of school at the age of 13, Rodney fell into the wrong crowd, getting into drugs, joining a gang and ultimately finding himself in out of the correctional system over the next 20 years.
Finally, with the help of his family and Poway Adult School, he started to put his life back together.
“It doesn’t matter how far gone you are,” Rodney said. “You can always pick up the pieces and succeed if you want to. It’s not going to be easy. I can tell you that. But if you want it, you can have it.”
Rodney began classes to earn his high school diploma at Poway Adult School in 2015. Riding the bike his dad purchased for him to get to school, Rodney never missed a day. He excelled and become a role model to his fellow students and an inspiration to those contemplating going back to school.
Reaching a goal that for so long only seemed like a dream, at the age of 37, Rodney graduated with his high school diploma from Poway Adult School. Soon, he will begin the next chapter in his amazing story, attending Calvary Bible College in Murietta to obtain a degree in Theology. He plans to one day become a youth counselor to share his journey and help others stay on the right path.
Rodney’s story hasn’t gone unnoticed on a state level as he was recently awarded the “Every Student Succeeding” award by the Association of California School Administrators. They recently produced a video of his journey which can be viewed here.