CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Metropolitan School District rolled out the red carpet for their high academic achievers Wednesday.
The Barbara Byrd Bennett Center in Bratenahl hosted the event for CMSD 2014 graduates in honor of their college aspirations.
The annual Academic Signing Day commitment for almost 300 of CMSD college-bound seniors was especially meaningful to students whose plan is to be the first in their family to not only attend, but complete their college degree.
New Tech West senior Da' Vonte Wells said he never let the often tough neighborhood peer pressure to blow off school work get to him.
"It's always been my dream to go to college. I am the first in my family to complete highs school as well as go on to college, so it's kind of exciting. I know I'm making my mom proud," said Wells. "I kind of never really fell into peer pressure. I like to hang out with my friends, but I always separated that from my schooling."
While playing ball with friends never stopped Wells from completing his school work, he said he never lost sight of his post-high school goals.
"Monday through Friday and weekends if need be, it was straight business," said Wells.
Choosing Kent State University after being accepting at the University of Toledo as well, Wells said his trip to Kent's engineering school sold him.
"At first I wanted to go to Toledo, but I really liked the Kent campus, and I got a grant for room and board," said Wells.
For senior Samantha Hupp her goal is to set an example for her younger relatives while finding the road to her own academic journey.
"Being the first in the family a lot of my family is looking up to me," said Hupp. " I have a lot of younger siblings and a lot of cousins and just being this first person to inspire them to go too it's exciting for me to know that I'm the first step for them to make a better choice in their life and it's a dream for me because it's one more step for me to start my journey."
After seeing movie stars like Scarlett Johansson work in Cleveland while shooting the latest Captain America Marvel series film, Hupp has a bead on a major in film making at Cleveland State University.
"It's going to be a struggle, it's going be tough but if you don't go through those things and challenges you really won't be ready for the outside world in starting your career," added Hupp.
Miami University of Ohio-bound senior Dushunna Daniel is also a first-generation college degree-seeker with a committed attitude.
"I have two older brothers that started but never finished, and I'm the baby so I kind of feel like I have to do it being the last one, and Miami is such a great school and while it's been a hard time, I'm ready. I'm very excited," said Daniel.
While many of Dushunna Daniel's fellow students have quit high school, or have now benched plans for college as they near graduation, she is even more determined to be a four years-and-out college graduate.
"I feel like I've come so far I can't just give up now. I feel like college is my only way to guarantee my success at anything, so I have to do it," said Daniel.