TIFTON — Ruben Carbajal is set to graduate in 2020 after completing course work for his junior and senior years of high school as a tenth grader.
Carbajal attends Sixth Street Academy, which is the Tift County school system’s alternative school.
Carbajal said he was inspired by a saying school director Dr. Tonja Tift uses: all gas, no brakes.
“Really, the work is easy, you just need time,” he said.
“We are here to try to transform students’ behavior,” said Tift. “It’s all about trying to reshape their behavior to help them be better students. We just want them to be the best they can be.”
Tift said that Carbajal started at Sixth Street in September 2019 and immediately started working on completing his classes. Students at the school do coursework on computers and are able to work at their own pace.
“He would do four classes at a time,” Tift said. “His work ethic is just second to none.”
School counselor Earlletheia Williams said that the first word that comes to mind when describing Carbajal is ‘wow.’
“Reuben came to us September 19, 2019,” Williams said. “He had six credits. Usually when we have new students we give them four classes since we’re on block (scheduling). So I assigned Ruben those classes and I noticed and told Dr. Tift that this dude is working all four classes simultaneously.”
Carbajal worked on his schoolwork constantly: at school, on the weekends, over holiday breaks, early in the morning and late at night.
“He works at night,” Willams said. “He works through the night. He’ll call her up to bypass or skip some things that he has to take while he’s on campus. Every day his percentages kept going up.”
“My high school students know that they can text me,” Tift said. “I don’t care if it’s the weekend, at night, if they want me to check something or bypass something. He would always text me, I’ve got the text messages to prove it.”
Williams and Tift said that Carbajal completed 18 credits in six months, which is an incredible achievement.
“We’re super proud of Ruben,” Williams said. “He doesn’t like the praise and accolades but you just can’t not put him out there to let people in the community know what this student has accomplished. It’s huge. I want to turn cartwheels and do a cheer for him. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for Ruben and I’m hoping that he will set a precedent and encourage other students to do well and not to just look at Sixth Street as a place for bad kids, but rather look at it as a place where kids are granted a second opportunity to refocus, reset and get things together.”
“The little phrase he was saying, ‘all gas, no brakes,’ is what we use to encourage students,” Williams said. “‘You can do whatever you set your mind to. Let’s get in this car and it’s all gas, no brakes.’ He took that literally and drove the car and he’s still driving.”
Carbajal has his sights firmly set on furthering his education at Southern Regional Technical College and dreams of being an automotive technician.
“When I finish my testing, I’m going to find a job so I can help me and my parents out.” he said. “I’m going to go to Southern Regional and study.”