Fedcap’s annual Graduations are among the most inspiring events on our calendar. They take on special meaning because of the barriers that individuals must overcome to graduate. The Fedcap Career Design School, Fedcap School and Easterseals Child Development Centers all celebrated graduations in June, in moving ceremonies that inspired all who attended.
On Wednesday June14th over 400 people gathered at John Jay College to celebrate Fedcap’s Career Design School Graduation ceremony. The joyous event recognized the courage and achievements of a remarkable group of individuals who overcome barriers and challenges to graduate.
Fedcap President and CEO Christine McMahon thanked the Fedcap board for their vision, and commitment to supporting the work of Fedcap. She offered powerful words for the graduates. “This day is the heart and soul of the work we do at Fedcap. This is about jobs, a great education, a living wage and a career.”
Mark O’Donoghue, Fedcap Board Chairman, said in a taped message that “it takes a tremendous amount of courage and commitment to start something and see it all the way through. Because of your courage and commitment doors will open to you that were previously shut.”
Don Harreld, Senior VP of Fedcap’s Education Practice Area, served as emcee for the event. He introduced Fedcap Board Member Ken Raisler, who thanked the graduates’ families, friends and partners for their support. “As you look out at the audience and see your families, friends and loved ones, I hope you are feeling the overwhelming sense of pride in yourselves that they feel about you. I encourage you to continue to believe in yourselves; to be bold, continue to work hard, and to pursue your dreams.”
Ken presented Fedcap’s Excellence in Vocational Education Award to Arnie Doren, ACCES VR Regional Business Relations Coordinator. In accepting the award Arnie thanked Fedcap for a 32- year partnership characterized by successful collaboration in helping individuals with disabilities identify their skills and strengths, and get the training and support they need to succeed in the workplace.
Graduates and Alumni of the Career Design School provided powerful testimony to the impact of Fedcap on their lives. James Branch graduated from Fedcap’s Security Training Program with support from Fedcap staff, particularly instructor Gloria Henry, James moved from unemployment and government assistance to landing his dream job as a security supervisor, where he supervises over 500 security guards.
“The Security Training program got me reenergized and refocused, and gave me renewed confidence in my ability to get a job,” he said. “It put me back on the career ladder, climbing to the top.”
Board member Malvina Kay introduced Yashira Cruz – “a remarkable young woman with a powerful story.” Yashira earned a Bachelor’s Degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College before suffering from depression and falling out of the workforce. She took a chance and enrolled in Fedcap’s Home Health Aide Training Program, to support herself while she pulled her life together and worked towards her dream. Today Yashira is completing a Master’s Degree in clinical social work, while gaining valuable experience working for Fedcap.
To spirited applause, she told the crowd – “I found Fedcap at exactly the right time in my life. To the Fedcap 2017 graduates I say this – Take a chance on yourself, and do whatever you can to accomplish your goals!”
Alumni speaker Minurka Marte was introduced to the stage by Fedcap board member Larry Ach. Minurka, who is deaf, talked about her struggles to support herself and her children after emigrating to New York City from the Dominican Republic. Fedcap provided her with American Sign Language interpreters and other supports so that she could graduate from the agency’s Total Facilities Management Program. Minurka now works for Fedcap, and for the first time in her life has secure, supported employment and a living wage.
Minurka thanked Fedcap staff for helping her not just in training but also in financial literacy – how to manage money, pay bill, set up a bank account and navigate healthcare. “Because of their help I am independent, and my life is stable,” she said.
Christy Reeves, CEO of Single Stop, a new member of the Fedcap family of agencies, closed the event by thanking the graduates for their extraordinary courage and commitment, and the Fedcap community of stakeholders for their tireless working in making the Power of Possible a reality.
On June 13th, 15 students graduated from the Fedcap School, earning both a Certificate of Completion and a State of New Jersey high school diploma. It was the largest graduating class in the school’s history and the most successful in terms of transition plans. “All of our students broke through significant barriers and stuck with the program to earn high school diplomas,” Fedcap School Director Luanne Macri said” “They are planning for the future and on the road to success.”
Easterseals New York’s four Child Development Centers also celebrated graduations in June. The centers offer unique environments were children of all abilities learn together, and meet a growing need for high-quality child care for pre-school children and their parents. At the graduations, children entertained families and staff with songs, and received individual awards.