Miranda Mastera stopped going to high school during her junior year. She was in an unhealthy relationship at the time and family upheaval at home made it impossible for her to continue, she says.

She tried to return for her senior year but didn’t follow through. Last fall she gave it one more try, and it turned out to be the charm. Mastera, who lives in North Yarmouth, graduates from Greely High School this month as a fifth-year senior.

Throughout high school Mastera moved often and attended several school districts. A highlight of the difficult times has been helping to raise her niece Calleigh, 6, who has a rare genetic disorder and has been adopted by Mastera’s parents.

“She’s so beautiful,” Mastera says. “She’s nonverbal, but she’s one of the smartest kids I know.”

Mastera, 19, has aspired to become a country music singer since she was 9 years old and recently recorded an EP of original songs that has yet to be released.

But she found another calling this year through an after-school, for-credit internship program that allowed her to work two days each week with residents of the Ledgeview Assisted Living facility in Cumberland.

She plans to attend Southern Maine Community College this fall and wants to become a registered nurse.

“I came to realize that taking care of people is what I’ve always wanted to do,” Mastera says. “The relationships that I make with people at Ledgeview, that’s what they need. They have so much knowledge and they’ve been through so much, it’s so cool to hear about it.”

Mastera credits her older brother Mason, 20, with inspiring her to finish high school. The two siblings started elementary school together and stuck by each other through thick and thin. Determined, responsible and kind – “he’s the best person that I’ve ever met,” Mastera said of her brother.

So, when her brother graduated from high school last year without her, it was a big disappointment for them both. This month, she attended his graduation from Marine boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, and he will attend her graduation from Greely.

“He’s 75 percent of the reason I’m graduating,” Mastera says. “When I stopped going to school, it had a pretty big impact on him. I kind of let him down and he was really worried that I wouldn’t graduate. But I promised him that I would, and he will be there when I do.”

Read all 2017 graduates to watch profiles.

— By Kelley Bouchard

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