For the past nine months we have followed 15 local freshmen in this newspaper, joining them for their journey through the college experience and sharing that journey with you. In doing so, we hoped to excite high school students about college and reassure parents that a college degree for their children was attainable.

Of the 15 freshmen who agreed to be part of our project, we followed five of them particularly closely, attending their classes and being invited into their homes. We think the end result was a real picture of the pressures and achievements college students endure and celebrate. It was a fair picture of getting along with roommates, pinching pennies and juggling classwork, athletics and friends. It was a story about life.

Our students were challenged by their college experience, but they were open about those challenges and what they did to cope. We will never know who may have been inspired enough by our project to pursue a college degree, but we do know that the students we followed are committed to their educations and prepared to make something of themselves.

We’re proud to call these young adults members of our communities and thank them for their willingness to let us into their lives.