Graduation, in many senses, represents a special right of passage. It is one that is hard won, and involves a certain degree of commitment. Of course, this commitment does not simply mean an investment of one’s time, but encompasses a devotion to one’s goals as well. What’s more, this accomplishment signifies the efforts of so many involved for it is not only a celebration of the individual students, but a commemoration of the program coordinators and the friends and family members. So it was, that as I stood present for the YWeb graduation I found myself within a privileged space. That is to say, I was humbled to be able to witness and share in the specialness of the moment as the students and their friends and family filled the air with pride and happiness. Moreso, as I gave each student their cap and gown, I couldn’t help but notice how dressed up everyone was and how it signified the importance of this event to them.
The speeches, however, were by far my favorite moment of the night. As the selected students spoke, it was clear the impact the program and those involved had on their lives. The YWeb Career Academy had not only given them technical skills, but it also renewed confidence within many of them. Where so many had felt stuck and unsure of their futures, there was now hope and the belief in one’s ability to tackle on new experiences. It was through the students, that I was able to see how Rashied and Julia redefined their roles as instructor and coordinator and how the success of the program came from much more than the simple fulfillment of tasks. Instead, as a team they offered a sense of mentorship through the creation of a safe space for growth and accountability. It was from a humbling stand point, that I looked towards the prospects of my future with hope that I can one day do what Rashied and Julia have done for the students.
Moments, like that of graduation, connect us not only to our past, but to our future as well. In affirming and understand where we have come from, we are in a position to see where we might go.
– Paola Gonzalez