Education

Southwest senior took the long road, and it paid off

Southwest High School senior Tyrese Rochester has received a $48,000 scholarship to major in music education at South Carolina State University in the fall.
Southwest High School senior Tyrese Rochester has received a $48,000 scholarship to major in music education at South Carolina State University in the fall. wmarshall@macon.com

Tyrese Rochester knew he needed an education, and for a time, he walked an hour to Southwest Magnet High School just to get it. His dedication and perseverance paid off, earning him a $48,000 scholarship to South Carolina State University.

The graduating senior experienced periods of homelessness during high school, said Pamela Manigault, Southwest’s GEAR Up graduation adviser. Rochester said his family moved in with his aunt when he was a sophomore. They were back in their own apartment for his junior year, but Rochester had to walk or take the city bus since he was in a different school zone.

“I just wanted to get my education. I wanted to go to college and major in music. I just kept thinking about the bigger picture,” he said.

Rochester is a giving person with a big heart and is always willing to help others, Manigault said. Southwest staff members stepped in when they realized the hardships he was facing. They made sure he got rides to school every day and had what he needed.

Area educators offer congratulations and advice to this year's graduating high school seniors.

“Even though it’s hard, you have to just keep pushing through,” said Rochester, son of Cynthia Rochester. “When you finally do accomplish it, it’s even more great than doing it the regular way.”

Throughout the challenges, music has been a constant in Rochester’s life. He has been in the band since elementary school, learning trumpet first, then trombone and baritone, and tuba in 10th grade.

Rochester decided he wanted to be an educator after watching Southwest band director Dominique Lane at work. It’s his goal to one day teach music, lead his own band and compose concert pieces. He plans to study music education at South Carolina State and then get his master’s degree.

“I hope he accomplishes everything he sets out to do. He deserves it. He’s persevered through so many difficult times,” Manigault said. “Where many other students would have given up and said, ‘Forget it, this it too hard,’ he said, ‘No, I’m going to graduate.’ I think that in itself is a testament to the kind of person he is.”

Andrea Honaker: 478-744-4382, @TelegraphAndrea

Area high school graduations

    • People attending Bibb County graduations at Macon Coliseum are advised to arrive early to allow time to go through the security checkpoints. Doors open an hour before the ceremonies. Like previous years, all bags will be searched. However, this is the first time that metal detectors and hand-held security wands are being used, said Stephanie Hartley, the Bibb district’s communications director. The venue’s new management company, Spectra, requires this type of security at all events.
    • Find a list of area high school commencements at www.macon.com/news/local/education/article151232637.html.
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