BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A picture of a Birmingham-area teenager walking to a bus stop to get to his graduation ceremony is going viral on social media.
The photo shows a student in a cap and gown and has been shared almost 35,000 times.
Radio personality Rickey Smiley, who is from Birmingham, also posted the picture on his Facebook page.
The teenager, Corey Patrick, said he’s been walking to the bus stop for the past year on his mission to graduate.
After four years, Corey finally earned his diploma, but many may not know the obstacles it took to achieve success.
“Every morning Corey would get up and catch the MAX transit bus to go to Tarrant High School,” said Corey mother, Felicia White.
White lives in the West End area and this year her son began living with her. He didn’t want to leave his friends at Tarrant High School, where he had been attending school.
“We didn’t have any transportation,” said White.
Corey said he woke up every day between 4 and 5 in the morning. He walked approximately 10 minutes to the bus stop for the 14 mile ride to Tarrant.
“I was just really determined,” said Corey.
Without a ride to his graduation, Corey walked the familiar steps to the bus stop.
“I told my son just go ahead and get on the bus and we’ll work from there,” said White.
At the last minute, White was able to find a ride to see her son. On Corey’s route to graduation, someone captured a photo of him on his journey. It’s been viewed across the country.
“Very proud of Corey, and it’s overwhelming because it happened overnight,” said White.
With well-wishes pouring in, Corey is thinking about what’s ahead. He’s interested in computer science, but has not made college plans just yet.
Rickey Smiley worked to get Corey a new SUV. Tyrese, Mike Epps and Da Brat helped with the car giveaway, too.
Now that he has his diploma in hand, he’s happy he took the extra steps for his future.
“When I woke up that day I was just happy that today was that day that I was going to walk the stage and get my diploma,” said Corey.
Corey said he hasn’t had an opportunity to meet the woman who took the photo that has gone viral. He wants to thank everyone who has reached out for the support.