Earlier this month, 15 men from Chicago CRED’s first and second cohorts walked across the graduation stage. For many of the men who dropped out of school at an early age and who have faced numerous obstacles throughout their young lives, it was an accomplishment they never expected to reach.

With persistence, hard work, and a support system of mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they were able to turn the dream of a high school degree into a reality. They earned credentials through Penn Foster High School’s online degree program, which provides skills and training for jobs, sending the men on a path toward a meaningful career or in some cases, toward college.

“I dropped out of high school when I was 16, so I went years not having [an education],” says graduate Joshua Joyce who plans to continue his studies and go back to school for studio engineering. “It’s a great milestone for me.”

Photo by Joel Wintermantle of Penn Foster, video by Eric Sandroski of Penn Foster.