ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WSVN) — A young Haitian refugee who arrived in South Florida five years ago is now a high school graduate.
This weekend, Lincoln Rene graduated with honors from Greece Olympia High School in Rochester, New York. “I mean, it’s been a tough journey, but I can’t tell you how excited I am right now. It’s crazy,” said Rene.
Back in April 2006, Rene and 40 other refugees left Haiti on a fishing boat and arrived on South Florida shores. “We are just trying to get a better life,” Rene said.
Rene, who was 14 years old at the time, was sent to a Broward County Detention Center. He was eventually released and allowed to remain in the U.S.
Rene left South Florida and settled in upstate New York. Five years later, Rene earned his high school diploma. “I never thought that this would happen, but that was my goal,” said Rene. “My goal has always been to get an education, and I came here, and that’s what I was planning to do.”
When Rene enrolled at Greece Olympia High School, he was illiterate. However, the teen was determined and worked hard to earn a great education. “I was after school every single day. I would go to school from 6 to 6 in the afternoon, spending extra time with the teachers and doing a lot of reading on my own and listening to tapes and videotapes and stuff like that,” Rene said. “I just put a lot of time in. When you put the time in, you get the time out.”
Now that he has his diploma, Rene said he plans to further his education and will attend college next year. He plans to become a social worker so he can help others just as he was helped. “I hope that every kid, not just in Haiti but around the world, they take every opportunity that they get, because it’s only once in a lifetime. You never know when this is going to happen again, and when you get the opportunity, take it,” Rene said. “Don’t let it go.”