ALTON - Taya Breden, a 2015 Alton High School graduate, recently made her entire family proud to become a 2020 Florida Gulf Coast University graduate with honors and was student-debt free because of her various scholarships and sacrifices.

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Florida Gulf Coast University is located in Fort Myers, Fla. Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Breden had to do her graduation in virtual style, but her family wanted to go a step beyond and had a parade by her Birch Street home in Alton.

About 25 people turned out for the parade to salute by her home, which was very emotional for her family and friends. Taya beamed with smiles in her cap and gown and waved energetically to each car that drove by her.

“I graduated Summa Cum Laude with my bachelor’s degree in Education, Child and Youth Studies,” she said. “I was a first-generation college graduate. Moving to Florida for college was the best decision I have ever made. I am super proud to say that I am also graduating debt free with zero student loans. This journey hasn’t always been easy, but it was definitely worth it. I have met the best people over these past four and a half years, and made the best memories that I will cherish forever.”

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Taya said what she appreciates most was the love and support of her “Mama” - Tiffany Breden.

“I know this journey couldn’t have been possible without my mama,” she said. “She has supported me, not only financially but in every other way possible. She has never given up on me, and this is truly a blessing. I can’t thank her enough for everything she has done! I appreciate it more than you know, Mama, and don’t know what I would do without you. I love you beyond words.”

Taya said she is so excited for the next chapter of her life.

“I can’t wait to see what the future holds,” she said.

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