By Mike Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — About 50 students who took the road less traveled to a diploma picked up their GEDs Wednesday at the JEVS E3 Graduation at Citizens Bank Park. One is a young man from Africa who lost his family as a teenager.

John Hashim’s journey to a GED began in Congo, where by the age of 14 he’d he lost his entire family to tribal wars. He spent the next three years working to get to America and finally settled in Philly this winter as a refugee.

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“I’ve always dreamed to be a graduate,” Hashim said.

He worked five nights a week while attending school and says there’s no looking back.

(credit: Mike Dougherty)

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“It’s my chance to go further with my studies,” he said, “go further with technology, like coding, web development.”

Mayor Jim Kenney praised all the students from JEVS for not giving up on their goals.

“Sometimes people get off the path,” the mayor said, “but there’s always a way back on and we’re here to congratulate them.”

Tara Mullen with JEVS says traditional schools don’t always work for everyone.

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“This is a smaller environment. This is a community environment,” she said. “Our young people feel safe and definitely supported so that they can take next step in life.”