Graduation season is in full swing at Children’s Aid. In addition to the stepping up ceremonies at our early childhood centers and the middle and high school ceremonies across our community schools, we also recognize the individuals who had to overcome some additional hurdles to obtain their diplomas.
Last week the Next Generation Center (NGC) in the Bronx hosted a graduation ceremony for 30 individuals who earned their high school equivalency degree (formerly known as the GED) over the past year through two separate programs.
Twelve young people earned their degree through the NGC Education track, a Children’s Aid program run entirely through the center which serves youth involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems; the remaining students earned the degree through the Department of Education’s Pathways to Graduation program. While it takes most people two to three tries to pass the exam—which crams the entire four years of high school curriculum into one sitting—the majority of participants at NGC passed it on their first try.
They were able to do so with the commitment and leadership of Angel Romero, who heads NGC Education, and the support of the entire staff at the center who form familial ties with participants.
Many of the students made the decision to finish their high school degree despite facing life obstacles that didn’t make it easy—homelessness, foster care, or learning English as a second language. Valedictorian Ariana Navarro completed her degree in addition to raising two toddlers and working in the Next Generation Center catering program. She plans to continue her post-secondary education and study forensic science; her peers share her drive and diligence.
President and CEO Phoebe Boyer provided remarks at the event that recognized the graduates and their fortitude. “Despite all of the reasons that might have persuaded you to quit, you made the decision to strive for your equivalency degree,” she said. “Through sheer determination, perseverance, and focus, you stood up to the challenges you faced—and you won.”