This year, we’ve had an inspiring group of graduates submit their stories to become the 2018 Graduate of the Year. Each finalist had an impressive application and used their knowledge, education, and passion to help their communities and reach their goals. Jonathon Leonard, a Penn Foster High School graduate, was originally unable to finish school due to a long-term illness as a teenager. Penn Foster helped him earn his diploma and take the first steps toward reaching his goals. Currently, Jonathon is working in the information technology industry. Here’s his story:

“I was a struggling high school student, barely able to pass the proficiency exam required for graduation. With Penn Foster, I was able to actually complete a high school diploma instead of a degree, which would help me reach my goals. Since graduating, I’ve had numerous promotions at my company that not only led to a better salary, but more responsibility and opportunity. I’ve become a network administrator working for a managed service provider that is in charge of creating network policy that meets the needs of various clients. Through the process, I’ve gained valuable supervisory skills and I look forward to continuing my growth in the Information Technology field.

Using what I know about technology, I’ve volunteered over 1,200 hours to a church in southern California, operating a camera that allowed people from around the world, who would not otherwise be able to attend services, to listen and participate over the internet. These contributions were recognized by the former President of the United States, George Bush, through his Presidential Volunteer Service Award. I was awarded with this distinction at the gold level through the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

I’m currently enrolled in college, working to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, with an emphasis on cybersecurity and have a 4.0 GPA as a Sophomore. I’ve been excelling academically more now than ever, and I attribute that to my studies at Penn Foster High School. In my time in the program, I obtained a greater and deeper respect for education and the role it plays in the opportunities for advancement in life. I’m now on track to graduate college in 2020, with further aspirations to attend Stanford University as a graduate student. Penn Foster High School has really turned my life around and given me these opportunities. My future is looking very bright!”

Jonathon is looking forward to making moves and realizing his goals. With ambition and drive, we know he’ll do great things!