Growing up in foster care, Karim was among the many who were dealt a bad hand in life. But he put all of that behind him to get his long-awaited high school diploma at age 26, opening him to a world of possibilities — including a college education.
Karim stars in a PSA video from Ad Council (the same organization responsible for the video of John Cena waxing lyrical about the delectable melting pot that is America) that aims to empower adults to finish high school.
"Every day after work I went straight to school, studied hard. And it paid off," Karim says in the video. "I could not have done it alone."
Karim's story is one of many. Across the country, an estimated 29 million adults don't have their high school diplomas. The video is part of a larger campaign called Finish Your Diploma, and is one of eight featured stories of adults who go back to school and earn their diplomas.
The campaign was launched by Dollar General Literacy Foundation, an organization supporting education and literacy initiatives for all ages.
"As adults are considering finishing their diploma, often the greatest challenge is simply knowing where to go for support and having the courage to take the first step towards completing their diploma," said Denine Torr of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation in a press release.
"By coupling real stories with information about free local adult education classes and resources, we hope the new commercials will inspire and empower individuals to pursue their dreams through education."
One of the videos, shot entirely in Spanish, is aimed at appealing to the Hispanic population. According to the Census Bureau, 88 percent of American adults completed high school, but only 66.7 percent of Hispanic adults had a high school diploma, the lowest of any racial demographic.
It's hard to overstate how empowering a high school diploma can be for many people looking to provide better for themselves and their family. For Faith, one of the women featured in the PSA, it made life that much better and opened new doors for her.
"Life changed for me drastically [after I got my diploma]," she said in her video. "I'm going to continue my education, I'm going to go forward this fall... this is just the first step for me."