FARMINGTON -- Samantha Smothers hopes she will be able to get into cosmetology school. Now, she has a high school diploma to help her reach that goal.
But first, for the next three months, Smothers will be finishing her sentence at Davis County Jail.
"This is just one step closer to a real life," said the Ogden resident.
On hand to congratulate her -- and, more importantly, to hug her -- was her mother, Cora Courtney.
"This is a positive step in the right direction," Courtney said.
Smothers was among one of the largest graduating high school classes Davis County Jail has ever had, said Sheriff Todd Richardson.
Richardson, along with other dignitaries, shook the hands of 34 inmates who each earned 24 credits and received a high school diploma.
Jana Fowers, the high school program facilitator, said the diplomas are different from a general education development certificate, which requires only five credits to receive.
"You've fulfilled a monumental task," Richardson said.
Richardson received a few laughs from the inmates when he said, "Although it's my job, I would never like to see you in our facility again."
Brad Oldroyd, a businessman who owns and operates several Top Stops and Chevron convenience stores along the Wasatch Front, was the keynote speaker.
"This room is full of hope," he said.
Oldroyd also told graduates they should always keep their "windshields clean" and "never look in the rearview mirror. Always look forward."
"The key is what we do next, not what we did before," he said.
Courey Ottley, 31, of Belize, said getting a high school diploma is a "dream come true."
In his country, he could not go to school because it was too expensive for his family to send him.
Now he plans, when he gets out of jail, to continue his education and become a plumber.
"My mother, she will be so proud," Ottley said about the diploma, which he plans to mail to his sister so it will be safe until he is released.
Johnathan Benns, 23, of Salt Lake City, said when he was a teenager, a high school diploma was not something he wanted.
But after facing federal charges for conspiracy, "this means the world to me. I know I can better myself and my future."