CLEVELAND — Five years ago, Antonio Dobyne found himself in a place no one ever plans to be in: Cleveland Municipal Court for a misdemeanor charge.
Things could've ended a lot differently, but seeing as he didn't graduate high school, the judge that day, Judge Emanuella Groves, saw this as an opportunity for him to study and get his GED.
During his early years in school, Dobyne struggled with his vision. After getting referred to see specialists at the Cleveland Sight Center, problems with his vision were the cause of a genetic eye disease, which makes him legally blind.
Fast forward to Thursday, and he's now the student of the year and was designated as the commencement speaker for this year's Ohio Options Adult Diploma and High School Equivalency Graduation Ceremony. He asked Judge Groves to be at the ceremony so he could publicly thank her for taking a chance on him to change his future.
"Easily I could have given him a fine and sent him on his way, and who knows where he would be, and so now we know that the trajectory in his life has changed tremendously," said Groves, who was thrilled to get an invitation to the graduation.
Dobyne spoke highly of Groves who changed the course of his life.
"I just wanted her to know that I listened to what she was telling me, and I didn't go out here and do anything crazy and stayed on the right path," Dobyne said at the graduation.
Dobyne isn't stopping any time soon. He is pursuing an associate's degree in small business management at Tri-C. He says he wants to go on to get his bachelor's degree at Cleveland State University when he is done.