In 1979, with only 16 days left before graduating high school, Richard Landin's parents forced him to drop out so he could help provide for the family. Now, after more than three decades, Richard, 53, decided it was time to finally walk across the stage and claim his long-awaited diploma.
"I begged my mom and dad to let me finish. I was already so close, but they desperately needed my help," Richard said.
Shortly after Richard dropped out of high school, he met the love of his life, Irene, got married and started a family. Finishing school seemed far out of his reach. The children kept coming and soon Richard and Irene had seven kids. Being a high school graduate began to feel like a dream that could never come true.
Determined to provide for his family, Richard spent 35 years in the roofing business as the sole provider while Irene worked as a stay-at-home mom. Because he missed out on his education, Richard made it his goal to make education a priority for his children.
In 1998, their first child walked across the stage as a Lubbock High School graduate. Year after year, their children donned the black cap and gown and walked across that same stage. Finally last May, their youngest child Sammie graduated.
"Last year when my brother graduated, it was indescribable, the reaction of my parents and how proud they were to graduate all seven kids," Sara Perez, the fifth oldest said. "Now it's our turn to be proud."
More than 30 years after Richard left high school, he made his way back to the classroom and will walk across the very stage his seven children did. Starting classes this past December at Matthews High School, Richard once again sat behind a desk, only this time with classmates three times younger.
On March 7th, Richard completed his last requirement and come May 31st, the Landins will have an eighth graduation picture to hang on their wall. For Richard's family, it's a thought that brings tears to their eyes. "It's so inspiring that we will see my dad walk across that same stage we walked across," Sara cried. "Proud is the only word that comes close to describing how it feels."
For Richard, it proves nothing is impossible or out of reach if you put your mind to it. "Yes you can do it," he said. "Don't be scared to go out there and try to do something different."
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