BY JULIE FARREN
Anthony Abate graduated on May 24 with three degrees and the President’s Award from Crafton Hills College.
The 28-year-old Cabazon resident, originally from Beaumont, went through a 12-year journey to reach that educational milestone.
When he was a sophomore at Beaumont High School, he was facing issues such as anxiety and depression.
Abate also was being bullied and his grandfather, Percy Davis, who passed away, which was a huge loss for the teenager struggling to find his way in the world.
After his grandfather died, Abate missed a week of school. But things did not get better once he went back to school.
“The week I returned, I had a teacher that I had been having issues with and the teacher made a joke about my grandfather passing away,” Abate said.
Abate made an appointment with his counselor, but was not getting anywhere with him either.
The counselor made a reference about Abate’s only option was getting a job in the fast food industry, but maybe he was not even cut out for that kind of work either.
Abate said that he was having difficult times with his parents, Anthony and Lola Abate, and living at home with them, but wants to point out that he does not blame them for his troubles.
He moved out of his parents’ home and also dropped out of Beaumont High School with a 1.5 GPA.
Abate said he felt that his counselor signed him out of school illegally.
His parents did not sign the paperwork for him to leave school — he had a friend’s mother sign in his parents’ place.
Abate was working three jobs with Subway, Starbucks and Bass shoe outlet.
Then he found a job as a manager at All Saints Clothes in Cabazon.
Three years ago, one of his best friends Annaly Medrano told him he should go to Crafton Hills College and continue his education.
He was concerned that he would not be admitted because he did not have a high school diploma.
Medrano assured him that would not be a problem.
So he met with a counselor in 2016 and enrolled at Crafton Hills College.
He took a summer school class first, then attended every semester until he graduated.
Abate went to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then got a full-time job at a luxury clothing store, Brunello Cucinelli, at Desert Hills Outlets in Cabazon.
Every day of his week was spent at school or at his job, but Abate kept moving forward.
He knew he was passionate about his education.
“There never was an option to quit,” Abate said.
He also became involved in activities at Crafton Hills College as a coordinator with the Honors program and the faculty and students.
“There was a constant support system there,” Abate said.
The Honors coordinator nominated Abate for the President’s Award and Abate met with President Kevin Horan for an interview.
At the convocation, Abate still did not know he had been chosen for the President’s Award until he heard his name.
“At that point, I didn’t think it was going to be given to me because there are so many amazing students,” he said.
He received a scholarship and a Medal of Distinction.
And he also graduated with a 3.7 GPA, along with an Associate of Arts degree, an AAT in sociology and an associate’s degree in social sciences.
His commencement ceremony was meaningful because he was surrounded by 40 to 50 family and friends, including his parents and siblings and his second grade teacher, Michelle Geiser.
This winter he will enter the University of California, Riverside, and in four years, he plans to have his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology, and then pursue work as a social worker.
Reflecting on what he went through in high school more than a decade ago, he wants to send a positive message to students who are facing the same challenges as he did
“My biggest concern is what they are doing now, to prevent this from happening to another student,” he said.
Staff Writer Julie Farren may be reached at email@example.com .