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Documentary features WSU student reaching beyond the sky

March 21, 2013

Last April, award-winning director and filmmaker, Betty Bastidas, set out on an important project. She flew from New York City to Detroit, a city where only 4 out of 10 students graduate high school, to shed light on the many youth shrouded in hopelessness. One teen stood out from the rest. Eighteen-year-old Fernando Parraz, was the first in his family on his way to completing his high school degree, and he did complete it magna cum laude this past June. Bastidas chose him as the subject of her 16-minute film to highlight the urgency of increasing high school graduation rates, sponsored by the Independent Television Service. "Can't Hold Me Back" is one of the 25 films currently in the PBS 2013 Online Film Festival, and it is also one of the five films from the American Graduate Latino initiative participating in the festival. Additionally, it will air on PBS in the fall of this year. Today, Parraz is at Wayne State University, armed with a $60,000 scholarship, and taking his pre-requisites to major in business. "I want to graduate collegeā€¦Then get a steady job and focus on film, and do what I can to help my community more - maybe open up a youth center," he says.