RISING SUN — After coming back from the brink of death earlier this school year, Gurmannat "GG" Ghuman is just happy to be graduating high school.
“I’m proud of myself,” she said. “I think it was a second chance by God, and God wanted me to finish all this out.”
At the beginning of her senior year, Ghuman returned from visiting India. But during that trip, she contracted a virus that caused her liver and kidneys to fail within 15 days.
Not even her doctors believed she would survive, according to Ghuman.
“I was in the hospital for three months,” she said. “They gave up on me, but my liver regenerated after they were taking all of the tubes out of me and everything. They were going to declare me dead because I was in a coma for a week and then I was on life support.”
But Tuesday afternoon at the Rising Sun High School football stadium, Ghuman was among the 277 students receiving certificates of completion from the Cecil County School of Technology.
Ghuman, of Elkton High School, and her friend Alyssa Grafton, of Rising Sun High School, each completed CCST’s homeland security program. The pair are planning to study criminal justice at Wilmington University and Albright College, respectively.
The friends agreed that one of their favorite memories at CCST was getting to shoot Nerf guns at their teacher, Walter Steffens, as they practiced apprehending a suspect.
Grafton said she will be coming away from CCST with a better comprehension of criminal justice and homeland security, and a vision for what she wants to do in life.
“I wasn’t really sure coming into this exactly what I wanted to do, but now I’m exactly sure what I want to do after coming out of college because of this program,” she said.
Principal James Miró oversaw his first CCST graduation after becoming the principal there at the beginning of this school year.
Of the graduating class, 210 students received one or more certifications, with the Class of 2019 earning a total of 374 certifications. Additionally, 78 students completed capstone projects in their respective programs and 98% of the graduating class earned their First Aid/CPR Certification, according to Miró.
Miró noted that these certifications and other achievements are not just bookends in an impressive high school career, but will contribute to the graduates’ success as they enter the workforce and give back to their communities.
“In today’s economy, skills are what employers are looking for and it’s our hope that each of you will use your skills in a positive and productive way to provide a successful future for yourself and also become a productive member of our community,” he said.
The principal reminded the graduating seniors of “Miró’s three simple rules for success”: show up, do the work and be nice.
Although Miró admitted that he borrowed these rules from one of his previous bosses, he said the mantra has stood the test of time and will hopefully continue to be consistent throughout the graduates’ lives.
When it comes to showing up, Miró told the young adults that they not only have to arrive at work every day ready to put their best foot forward, but they must also show up in other aspects of their lives such as showing up for their family, their friends and a worthy cause.
“It is not always easy or convenient to show up, but if you need to be there, make the effort,” he said. “Sitting on the sidelines of life never leads to success, so show up.”
Miró urged the graduates not only to do the work, but to do it well and make themselves proud. By pushing themselves to continue to learn, become leaders in their field, and maintain positive relationships, Miró said they will be building a healthy and happy self.
As for being nice, Miró said this rule may be the hardest one for many of the graduates.
Miró said it is not always necessary to be nice as sometimes a firm and assertive approach is required. Instead, to strike a balance, he told the graduates to always be fair.
“Show compassion and empathy when appropriate, celebrate the successes of others, offer condolences when needed,” he said. “Lend a hand to those that need it, but don’t get taken advantage of. These things always come back to you ten times over, and they make every day easier and more enjoyable.”
Addressing her peers, student Saraya Waters said that without the cosmetology program she would not have her job cutting hair at the local Great Clips, nor would she have discovered her desire to study chemical engineering to learn to develop her own beauty line.
By attending CCST, Waters said she and her classmates have taken ownership of their destinies.
“We were the ones that turned in the work, we were the ones that finished the test, we were the ones who took on the task as adults, and we are the ones who are getting certified and licensed today,” she said. “At the end of the day, we put ourselves in this position and honestly it’s one of the best.”
Also speaking in front of his peers, electrical trades student Edwin Schweizer Jr. said “every day has not been a walk in the park,” but he was able to grow because his teacher, Victor Voshell pushed him and his peers to the max.
“Life is a journey, and all accomplishments we achieve during its course should be taken as starting points for further achievements,” Schweizer said. “Life is about growing, and being in our programs has given each of us opportunities to continue growing and to learn new skills that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.”
Certified/Geriatric Nursing Assistant (CNA/GNA) student Aaron Tank and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) student Chantel Negron, both from Elkton High School, reflected on their time in their programs and at CCST.
After having family members with medical issues, Tank said he was looking forward to helping others with similar problems.
“My Pop Pop has been in and out of the hospital. My nephew just had his appendix taken out and I like helping him and I’ve always loved kids … I just like helping others,” said Tank, who will be going to West Virginia University for nursing.
Helping those in need has also been a lifelong passion for Negron, and she is looking forward to doing so in her career.
“I always liked helping people when I was younger,” she said. “Being a nurse is something I always wanted to do since I was a little kid pretty much.”
Negron said her proudest moment at CCST was doing clinical rounds. After graduating, Negron plans to go into the U.S. Navy and pursue her medical degree.