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KGUN 9 Tucson News

Tucson woman will speak to the Arizona Senate about graduating high school at 33

By Andrew Christiansen,


As Mercedies Sanchez looked at the grades she got years ago, she looked at a 1.62 G.P.A and several Ds and Fs.

At one point, passing high school wasn’t always in Sanchez’s future. She was a “functional drug addict” and began using meth at 14 and then later cocaine and then went back to meth up until she was 28.

She also hung out with a gang during high school, saying she liked the lifestyle and the money.

During that time she only went to school about once or twice a week.

“I’d prefer to just not be there. I was like I’m failing anyways so what’s the point?” she said.

After going to an alternative school and going back to a regular high school she dropped out.

She tried to get her diploma twice after that but couldn’t. Once it was because she didn’t pass the final exams and another time because she couldn’t afford to finish.

“I applied for a position here and they really did check your diploma and they were like you don’t have your diploma,” Sanchez said.

Through TikTok she found an ad for the Arizona Workforce Diploma Program offered through Graduation Alliance , a free online program where people can get their high school diploma.

She then decided to try for her diploma a third time.

“They’re just very motivating when it comes to pushing me to get my diploma,” she said about the program.

After only about two weeks, Sanchez said she finished the 6 credits she needed to graduate.

“I needed to go get my eduction in order for me to be something bigger,” she said.

She now wants to get her CDL license and then become an x-ray technician.

She’s now 3 years sober and Wednesday was looking back at pictures of herself while on drugs.

“People do change. Like I just feel like everyone always feels like just because you’ve done drugs, like that’s just where you belong. No,” she said.

She hung up her diploma on a shelf in her living room and said she has a message for others that may be in the same shoes she was once in.

“Keep fighting for yourself and your education,” Sanchez encouraged.


Andrew Christiansen is a reporter for KGUN 9 . Before joining the team, Andrew reported in Corpus Christi, Texas for KRIS6 News, Action 10 News and guest reported in Spanish for Telemundo Corpus Christi. Share your story ideas with Andrew by emailing or by connecting on Facebook , or Twitter .

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