‘I lost my dad and grandma at the same time’ | Houston ISD senior overcomes multiple obstacles on journey to graduation

Wheatley High School senior Lizbeth Contreras Tovar is also raising a toddler.

HOUSTON, Texas — Phillis Wheatley High School’s namesake overcame unimaginable obstacles in her day and serves as a reminder of what present-day students can achieve.

“I lost my dad and my grandma at the same time,” said senior Lizbeth Contreras Tovar.

Tovar faced plenty of adversity on her way to wearing a cap and gown.

That includes losing her elderly grandmother and 61-year-old father within nine days of each this year from non-COVID related health issues.

“And I have a little girl, 2 years old,” said Tovar. “Her name is Valerie.”

Although Valerie was unexpected, Tovar said her toddler is anything but a burden.

“That’s like the best thing to happen to me,” said Tovar.

The little girl is a big reason Tovar wanted to finish high school. It’s a challenge her family, including her father, helped her accomplish.

“At least get a diploma so we can have like a better job,” said Tovar. “I want to learn how to do cosmetology.”

Tovar was among 11 hand-picked seniors who recently received $25,000 superintendent scholarships to help get them on their way.

“To make sure you make it to the school of your choice for cosmetology okay?” said interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan during the check presentation.

Wheatley principal Joseph Williams said students like Tovar help give him purpose.

“To see individuals like herself that have these different obstacles or challenges and they don’t let any of that stop them,” said Williams. “They persevere and meet their goal.”

Tovar knows now how well she can handle adversity and, perhaps, become an inspiration herself to younger students.

“That’s not easy,” said Tovar.  “But maybe they have a mom or a child and we have to continue for them.”

Houston ISD will graduate more than 11,000 seniors this weekend.

Find out more here: www.houstonisd.org/2021Grads

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