Phoenix High School graduate Molly Keenan-Gomez overcomes troubled past

By: Carol Percy, Reporter
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While some girls were buying senior prom dresses and planning graduation parties, Phoenix High School student Molly Keenan-Gomez was just grateful to finish high school.
Named Phoenix High School’s “Outstanding Student” for the Class of 2016, Keenan-Gomez overcame difficult personal struggles to rise to the top of her class.
She was one of 28 Phoenix High School students who graduated June 1 in the Lincoln High School theater.
At 18, Keenan-Gomez has spent much of her young life in the foster care system. Keenan-Gomez heard often that based on “where she’d come from,” she would never succeed.
“Because I was in the foster care system and my biological parents weren’t exactly the ‘ideal’ parents, strangers and even others close to me told me I’d turn out an alcoholic or a druggy in life based off family history,” Keenan-Gomez said.
But instead of giving up, Phoenix High’s star student worked hard to succeed in school.
“At Phoenix, I learned that success doesn’t come easy. If you really want something in life, you need to work hard and go get it,” Keenan-Gomez said. “No matter how many times you get knocked down, you just need to get back up as a stronger person.”
Keenan-Gomez attributes her scholastic success not only to her own drive but to the help she received from her adoptive family and from Phoenix High School’s staff and students.
In addition to her award for “outstanding student,” Keenan-Gomez won the school’s “Citizenship Award” for assisting other students and being a good role model, said Sandra Hackbarth, Phoenix’s education secretary.
Keenan-Gomez is “very excited” to move onto the next chapter in her life.
“In the fall, I will be attending Sierra College, following my dreams, and I will be working on getting my bachelor’s (degree) in psychology and in child development,” Keenan-Gomez said, “so I can soon work as a psychiatric urgent care responder. When I get older, I want to work in the foster care system.”
Despite her difficult circumstances, Keenan-Gomez has exceeded the school’s expectations, according to Phoenix High School Principal Chuck Whitecotton.
“No matter what, she always had a goal of completing her high school education.  She also knows what she wants to do for a career in the future,” Whitecotton said, “and is making plans to work and save money and then attend college. Molly has been an exceptional student and an exceptional individual.”