Alex Sanchez, 27, never finished high school as a teenager in California, but he did when he was 25 in Fairfax in 2003.
"It had been six years since I dropped out of high school back in California," Sanchez said. "I was going from job to job, you know, experiencing stuff but seeing that there was no future for me without education."
When he attended Mountain View from 2000-03, Sanchez worked an assortment of jobs, including working as a baker in Maryland from 10 p.m.-6 a.m., before driving back to Centreville for his 7:45 a.m. classes. Although he said it sometimes made him feel "bad" to be older than the majority of students, his teachers at Mountain View also made him an example for everybody since he kept grades high despite working full time and raising three children.
"It turned the way of my life and my family's life in a different direction," he said.
Sanchez, who works as a network administrator with Fairfax County, has three children: Alex, 8; Nohely, 6; and Jonathan, 4. He met his wife in high school in California, and she's the one who gave him the goal and encouraged him to finish. "Before I even started school, I asked her if she was willing to work so we could do something better," he said.
Sanchez said if there wasn't a Mountain View, he'd probably be going from job to job, without an education. "Once you get to a point, you can go no further," he said. "I tried to reach places, and they said, 'You need a high-school diploma at least,' and that's how I decided to go back."
Because he graduated, Sanchez was able to join the reserves, a dream of his since he was 12, and works one weekend a month for the military.
"Sometimes people see these schools for people who aren't behaving, bad kids, but that's not what it is," Sanchez said. "It's an opportunity for everybody, teenagers or adults."