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Monday, May 22, 2023

School Custodian From Georgia Goes Back to School at 45 to Earn Diploma

Elmo Desilva

Nationwide — Elmo Desilva, a 45-year-old African American man from Clarkston, Georgia, has recently earned his high school diploma after years of working as a school custodian.

“It wasn’t easy. It was a struggle for a while. But looking back, I am very proud,” Desilva told NBC12.

Desilva, who works as a custodian at a local elementary school had been aspiring to become the head custodian but it required him to have a high school diploma.

Desilva’s potential was recognized by the school principal Stephanie Brown-Bryant, who guided him to enroll in the DeKalb County Adult Education Program.

“By having our staff members equipped with educational opportunities it lends itself to growth. Not just for them but for our school,” Brown-Bryant said.

After nearly 6 months of attending night classes twice a week, Desilva received his high school diploma as one of the 46 adults who were honored at a graduation ceremony organized by the school district.

“I hate to fail at something. I didn’t want to start and not finish. I didn’t want to disappoint my boss,” he said.

During his teenage years, Desilva was unable to graduate from high school due to the unstable living situation he faced with his parents who weren’t always around. He had to take on additional responsibilities for his younger siblings, delaying his own education.

“I had to make money to put food on the table and clothes on their backs as a young teenager. It just pulled me out of school,” he said.

Now with a high school diploma, Desilva has the opportunity to be promoted to head custodian, which would help him provide for his family, plan for retirement, and potentially open doors to further professional growth.