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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Big Brothers Big Sisters hosted a special graduation celebration for its mentees recently. Three-hundred students were awarded scholarships and other special awards for their outstanding performance in high school. But one young lady stood out from the rest, and what a surprise she got.

“Keep those hands together and make some noise for Monet!” the emcee yelled out.

And Monet Guardado deserves a round of applause.

After a childhood spent in and out of homeless shelters and transitional housing, she’s just graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School with better than 3.0 grade point average.

Her hard work will take her to Miami Dade College’s honors program in the fall. It also won her a $3,000 scholarship and, oh yeah, a new car.

“I know it’s going to work out,” Monet singed.

And if that’s not enough to make her want to sing, nothing is.

“I feel like with education you can define your own future.  You don’t need your current situation to be that way forever. And that’s what I’d think of when I felt less hopeful, ‘I’m not going to be here forever,’” she explained. “And if I keep working at it, I’m going to be at a point that I want to be someday.”

For the past two years, Monet’s been paired with Dawn as part of the Big Sister Little Sister program.

“I get emotional and I don’t want to cry because I don’t want my makeup to smear, but it makes me feel like I’ve done a good job,” Dawn said. “And she’s done a lot for me. It’s nice to see her be successful.

Dawn is a self-employed entrepreneur who’s always felt an urge to give back.

“It was just something I knew in my heard that I wanted to do,” Dawn explained. “To be there for somebody else and care about somebody else other than myself.  It’s just nice to give to another person.”

Her giving and her time have had a huge influence.

“Dawn is a businesswoman, and that is so inspiring to see that every day,” Monet said of Dawn. “Because a lot of times you see people telling women they can’t do something. And some women take no for an answer. And she doesn’t do that.”

For Dawn, who said she didn’t have a mentor growing up, her relationship with Monet is very important.

“I really look at her as a sister. I see how ambitious she is,” Dawn said. “So when we get together and we talk about our goals, we pump each other up. So, it’s not a one way street. It works both ways.”

Monet plans to spend two years at MDC and then transfer to an Ivy League school.

She is the oldest of four and the first to traditionally graduate high school in her family and the first to go to college.

She plans to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant, and one day she wants to be a mentor for another young woman.

“I definitely will be a big sister when I can, because this program has been so amazing for me, and I’d like to give back in the same way,” she said.

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