From dropout to president's list

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By Carolyn Risner

Seven years constitute a lifetime for Andrea Walther.

She's been a solid A/B student, a pregnant teenager, a high school dropout, a wife, a mother, a GED recipient, a deli worker, a rat farmhand and a restaurant worker.

And then she made some choices that were detrimental to her life. That's when the changes began.

Change of Plans

In the midst of her junior year at Chiefland High School, Andrea, then 16, discovered that she was a statistic-a pregnant teenager. But she was determined that she wouldn't be another statistic.

It wasn't easy.

"I tried to stay in school," Andrea said last week, "but a lot of my time was spent in teenage parenting classes. And I wanted to stay home and nurse my baby."

At the conclusion of her 11th grade year, Andrea withdrew, walked across the street and took the GED test.

"It was important to finish," she said. "If you wait and get too far from school, it only gets harder. I wanted to do this while the knowledge was fresh on my mind."

In December of that year, her son Gabriel was born and come spring she attended what would have been her high school graduation.

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