CREATED May. 20, 2012
FT. MYERS, Fla. - It's been a busy graduation weekend in Southwest Florida as dozens of local high schools and colleges graduated hundreds of students.
Dunbar High School in Ft. Myers was among the schools holding a graduation ceremony this weekend at Harborside Event Center.
Four In Your Corner's Colleen Hogan is asking the graduates what's next.
There's been a lot of debate nationally if college is still worth it. Skyrocketing tuition coupled with a sluggish economy has some experts debating the merits of a higher education.
Regardless, the grads we talked with Sunday and their parents, say college was the only choice.
Handshakes, hugs and even a few tears from the grads of Dunbar High School as they stream out of their ceremony.
"This is a moment," graduate Tae Wells, 17, said.
It's an emotional moment for Wells and her best friend Octavia Nance, 18.
"Just proud," Wells said. "Just real proud."
"Very proud," Nance said.
The girls are proud to be holding their diplomas on this hot May afternoon.
The party has moved from the inside of the Harborside Event Center to the streets of the River District, where family members wait for their grads with flowers and balloons. Wells and Nance says the gifts are well-deserved, because the last four years were tough at times.
"I'm just glad that I made it," Wells said.
"You have to go through the ups and downs to get there, ya got some downfalls," Nance said.
But the walk across the stage was worth it and their family couldn't be more proud.
The girls will continue their education at a Daytona college where they both earned scholarships. The girls are going to study nursing. Nance's mom is also a nurse.
"I am ecstatic right now," Nance's mom Shoniq Walker said. "I am so happy. Words cant express how happy I am right now."
The proud mom has been preparing her oldest child for college since the start.
"From jump street that was our main goal; to graduate and go on for something else," Walker said.
The ultimate goal for the graduates?
"To succeed in life," Wells said.
Experts put the investment return of a college degree at $1 million over the course of a lifetime.
But what you make after college graduation largely depends on your major. Health care is still pretty hot and generally math and science are still safe bets.
Colleen Hogan, reporter