Pistole recounted her high school career as an "awkward time" of poor choices and credits grandparents Joe and Delores Pistole and aunt and uncle Kathy and Gary Pistole for helping her succeed in high school.
"Without support, I wouldn't have been able to do it. I was really confused when I was pregnant." Pistole said.
"And I have a big hunk of motivation," she said as she picked up her son Brian, age 1. "He's what I wake up for every day. I'm not supporting just one person anymore, I'm supporting two and I want to set a really good example for him."
When asked if she regrets the poor choices she made, Pistole said: "I'm not ashamed of them and I don't regret them because I did learn a lot from them and it's made me a better parent."
Her advice for teens in similar situations: "To not give up and to learn from your mistakes and just to take what the world gives you and make the best of it."
Pistole starts classes at Imperial Valley College on Monday with plans to major in criminal justice and eventually transfer to San Diego State University.
"I know I'll be prosperous. There's plenty of time," Pistole said.
"She has turned around dramatically," said Stacy Carpio, Pistole's high school counselor. "For a young adult to grow and mature, it's what I'm here for."
"I went through a lot of unique things and I still came out on top," Pistole said.
Friday night's graduation ceremonies opened with the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance" while hundreds of parents processed down Tiger Field arm in arm with graduates draped in red gowns.
A moment of silence followed the flag salute and national anthem.
A moment of silence was observed for student Monique Garcia who died in 1999. A diploma was awarded posthumously to Garcia.
"First of all, I would like to tell you that my speech will be cut short tonight because the Lakers have a game to win," salutatorian Daniel Salinas said as he opened his speech. He went on to thank his parents and promised to carry out "the American dream" that his father has followed throughout his life.
Salutatorian Savannah Armstrong thanked her teachers and friends for inspiration and lessons learned throughout her time at the school.
Opening his speech, valedictorian Jonathan Dale invited "all inclined" to join him in prayer.
Dale's speech was filled with space analogies that described the journey the graduates face in the years ahead.
He closed his speech with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you."
Following his speech, Dale received a standing ovation from the graduating class.
Class President Lupe Felix fought back tears during her speech, which described the loss of her father when she was in elementary school and the struggle her mother faced as a single parent. Cheered on by the audience and her fellow graduates, she finished her speech, which thanked her step-father and friends for their support and times shared throughout high school.
Staff Writer Anthony Longoria can be reached at 337-3452.