College and Financial Empowerment Celebrates Success
Last week, the College and Financial Empowerment Program had the absolute pleasure of recognizing, celebrating, and honoring our program participants in all component areas: Academic, Financial Empowerment, and Technology. We were pleased to welcome a full house of family and friends, whose support made the event feel truly special.
Program Director Tiana Bonner remarked, “the space not only looked beautiful, but it was filled with so much love, support, energy, community, power and overwhelming emotion. Many of us were moved to tears on more than one occasion!”
Our very own Youth Coordinator, Pedro Cruz, opened the program with an inspiring spoken word poem that articulated the power of sight. Pedro later received a certificate himself!
Nuri Chandler-Smith, the Dean of Academic Support and College Pathways Programs at Bunker Hill Community College extended congratulations to the participants on behalf of the school. “I am sure that all of you have been through incredible journeys to get where you are today,” she said. “It is our privilege and pleasure to be collaborators with you and IBA to help facilitate that journey. We will continue to be here to support you.”
We then turned the floor over to BHCC alumni who shared their success stories with us. First was Zetmara Lorenzo, the youngest of five whose parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic. After enrolling in Bunker Hill Community College through IBA’s programming, she continued her education at UMASS Boston majoring in Criminal Justice. This weekend she graduated from the University Magna Cum Laude, becoming the first in her family to do so.
“I want to thank IBA for its ongoing support,” she said. “It is true when they say that it takes a village to raise a child. I was that child.”
We were also honored to welcome BHCC alumnae Keith Clark, who came into contact with IBA while enduring homelessness.
“I don’t know if you guys know this, but 12% of Bunker Hill is homeless. Mathematically, that’s about 1,200 students, but Bunker Hill has incredible resources for their homeless population to take advantage of, which is how I was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA during my time there,” he said.
He also attributed IBA and his mentor, Guy Armand, BHCC’s Director of Community Based Initiatives, to his success. Keith proudly announced that he graduated from BHCC this weekend with an Associate’s degree in in History & Government and plans to attend Morehouse College for International Studies this year.
Of course, our ceremony would not be complete without an address from Phil Howard, our High School Equivalency Teacher who dedicates his time to adult education. He commended the participants on their hard work and emphasized the importance of continuing to learn, no matter what age.
The participants were then granted their hard-earned certificates, which was a rewarding experience to all those who attended. The smiles on the graduates’ faces reinforced why we love what we do here at the College and Financial Empowerment program. We are so proud of their achievements and cannot wait to see how they continue their journey!
As Zetmara aptly quoted during her speech,
“During this time of uncertainty, when young people of color question their worth and contribution to society, [we should remember] this quote from the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:
‘If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But by all means, keep moving forward.’”
We would like to thank everyone who supported the College and Financial Empowerment team by volunteering their time, celebrating with us, helping set-up, decorating, serving food, or simply asking how they could support! We would also like to recognize our facilities manager, Willie Valentín, for his outstanding assistance.
Congratulations to our Program Participants!