UTICA – It was an extra emotional sixth grade graduation at Watson Williams Elementary School in Utica on Wednesday when a surprise guest was announced.
U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Mark Mendez was deployed in Japan for two years, and more recently stationed in California. He came to Utica to surprise his niece, Jasmine, but his message was for all of the students about what they can do with their lives.
"It goes to show them that after hearing my background we’re not so different. I've also come from a place of struggle and I have transitioned to a place in my life where now that struggle has made me a stronger person and has built a very good character in myself, and I was able to experience a lot of things that I never thought I would be able to see," Mendez said.
Corporal Mendez says he couldn’t miss this graduation for the world.
He’s set to be deployed next month for about a year.
- Marine Corporal surprises niece at 6th grade graduation in Utica
- Madison marine surprises younger brother with homecoming ceremony
- 17 firefighters graduate from Utica Fire Academy
- Utica College graduates close to 800
- 4 locals graduate from Utica Fire Academy
- Mayor’s office announces 6th budget surplus for Utica
- Lifetime Utica resident running for 6th Ward councilman seat
- Utica Corporation Counsel releases statement on term limits vote
- 6th annual Daniel Barden Mudfest
- 6 graduates complete Kelberman Center and Utica College's WiN program