Con-GRAD-ulations Class of 2020!

In no time at all, this academic year came to a close. For some, this may feel too soon, and for others, this may feel like a long time coming. This year has challenged us in ways we didn’t expect, but time and time again, we overcame the obstacles.

It was especially hard for the graduating Class of 2020. Graduating high school is an incredible milestone, one that deserves plenty of recognition and celebration. It is not only the end of a chapter in one’s life, but the beginning of another chapter, one filled with new people, new experiences, and new growth. Though we couldn’t celebrate our seniors the way we normally would, we found ways to make the experience as special and unique as possible. After all, our scholars only deserve the absolute best!

We must give a HUGE shout out to the teams who put together SEVEN virtual graduation ceremonies for our high schools. We want everyone who lended their support and contributed to the creation of our graduation celebrations to know that we are so thankful for and appreciative of the work you have done to make this happen. This was no easy feat and we wholeheartedly thank you for a job well done!

We were lucky to have five keynote speakers at this year’s graduation ceremonies, each of whom not only shared their stories but offered their words of wisdom that inspired us to change the world and make it a better place. Here are some of our favorite quotes from our amazing speakers:

Ray McGuire, Vice Chairman of Citigroup:
“My journey is not about me: It’s about we, it’s about you, and it’s about what you have ahead of you. We need your leadership. I have every courage and every conviction that the path I followed is one that you will exceed. It’s your chance to change the world.”

Howard Fuller, Civil Rights Activist:
“You’re going to go out into this world with the kind of fury, with the kind of determination, with the kind of never-give-up attitude to make this world a different place. I’m hoping that today, you will see this graduation as your springboard to you becoming a changed person so that you can change the world.”

Shaun King, Writer and Civil Rights Activist:
“I believe in you, but it’s time for you to believe, fully and completely, in yourself. Congratulations on your graduation. The world is counting on you to be a force for good and we’re all so proud of you.”

Toni Blackman, Rapper and First Hip-Hop Ambassador to the U.S. State Department:
“Work! Get certified, get that training, get that degree! Do what it is that is necessary for you to execute on the vision that is inside of you. Write the plan, write the proposal, build the relationships. You are a Graduate! You got this!”

Our favorite moments are all dedicated to our scholars, whose at-home celebrations with loved ones warmed our hearts and lifted our spirits. We saw family members hand out diplomas, scream and whoop in the background, throw confetti and balloons, and show how proud they were. Even though it was a virtual experience, we could feel the joy, the pride, and above all, the love. These moments of laughter and happiness have been immortalized forever. This goes to show that though we couldn’t be present in the same room together, we still shared these moments as a community, and for that, we are truly grateful.

Lastly, but most importantly… Congratulations to the Class of 2020, you made it. We can not wait to see what you accomplish in the future.

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