Hipolito Garcia Paulino was the only one throwing his cap in the air at Hackensack High School in New Jersey on June 21, after his school held an early graduation ceremony just for him.
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Garcia Paulino, 18, hadn’t been in the United States for long, but already has answered the call to serve in the Marine Corps, according to NorthJersey.com.
When his high school found out he was going to be leaving for boot camp before their senior graduation ceremony, they decided to give him a ceremony that they thought he deserved.
“It’s important that every student feels special, so if we can change our schedules around a little bit to make him feel more special, it’s well worth it,” Principal Jim Montesano told CBS New York local.
Garcia Paulino and his family immigrated to the United States in 2017. They first moved to Hackensack, New Jersey, for a small period of time before his parents decided to move to Massachusetts, according to NorthJersey.com. Garcia Paulino, however, chose to stay, partly to help his grandfather who was having health problems.
Even before he enlisted in the Corps, Garcia Paulino already had a impressive resume, he is fluent in both English and Spanish and maintained a 3.9 GPA while working 25 hours a week during school so he could help provide for himself.
“We thought you shouldn’t be punished because you are doing something great,” Patricia Lozano, a school assistant principal told NorthJersey.com. “He’s very giving and very selfless in many ways and he has displayed that here at the high school, with all the volunteer work he does here.”
At his individual ceremony, his school, family and friends were all there to support him and say goodbye before he left for Parris Island, South Carolina, on Monday.
Following his four year enlistment in the Marine Corps, Garcia Paulino plans are to attend college where he plans to major in civil engineering.