First and foremost, I would like to say that I am honored to be this year’s first graduation valedictorian. I am not much of a speaker, so I will try my best to be as quick as possible. As some of you may already know, I am a non-res student. I completed the trade of Culinary Arts and also earned my High School Diploma during my 8 month career at Shriver. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and I was a little nervous moving to Massachusetts because I didn’t know what to expect. Brooklyn is so alive compared to this area that it was a big change. I knew I needed to stay focused on my goals--- specifically, to get my High School Diploma as well as prepare myself to have a successful career.
I started off in GED classes but was quickly placed in High School Diploma class because my teachers saw potential in me. They saw that my goal was to get things done and to graduate as quickly as possible. I couldn’t afford to slow down, my mind was made up. Things were never easy for me. Back in New York, I found myself jumping around from house to house, even after having a beautiful son. Having my son made things even more complicated. But I kept faith and kept praying to God and to my grandmother, may she rest in peace. I kept praying that I would find a way to help make positive changes in my life.
After spending a lot of time brainstorming and thinking about all of my options, my Aunt convinced me to move to Massachusetts. She kept telling me about all of the opportunities that were available to me and my son, and I finally decided to move. Originally, I was going to attend a GED program close to my aunt’s house, but I missed the deadline to apply. I was told about Shriver Job Corps by the Career Center in Lowell, and I thank God to have found such a wonderful program.
If a second chance is given to you, take it. Don’t take it for granted. There will be hard times that make you feel like you can’t keep going, but you have to. You can’t give up on your goals no matter how frustrated you get. Remember to reach out and ask for help when you need it, there are people here to help you. Be yourself. Be a leader. Commit to achieving your goals. Your actions will result in your future, and have nothing to do with the people trying to bring you down. Don’t let them bring you down.
Finally, I would like to thank my “Shriver Diarys” Mrs. Polisher and Ms. Moody for always having time to hear me out when I was down.
-My aunt for giving me the chance to come to Massachusetts and prove myself to those who didn’t believe that I could do it.
-My son for being my motivation in life to wake up every morning and to keep reaching my goals.
-My mom and the rest of my family for continuing to support me.
Congratulations graduates of 2012. We did it!