On Thursday, June 4 in an inspiring and rousing ceremony, 24 young people began the next stage of their journey with a scholarship in hand. The teens — along with friends and supporters — gathered via Zoom to celebrate their accomplishments as they virtually accepted their scholarship awards.
“I feel like the virtual graduation is very bittersweet. For seniors, graduation was supposed to be a time for closure,” said Vielka Vasquez, a student planning to attend Howard University. “All our hard work would've been worth it when we walked across the stage and got our diploma. It's definitely not the same when graduation is virtual, but the sentiment is still the same.”
The celebration commenced with a photo collage of the youth dressed in cap and gown. Carolyn Torres, manager of the College and Career Access and Success program presented a video of her and Clyde Weems, Student Services Coordinator – with masks – dropping off the certificates at each student’s house the week prior.
“Receiving a scholarship to me is a blessing,” said Abdulyekinni Ajomagberin who will be going to the University of Rochester. “Many students across the country struggle to pay hefty college tuitions. Students with potential often have to settle for less because they are unable to pay for a better college and that is unfortunate. But for me I have been blessed with a scholarship that has lessened the burden of having to pay for college on myself and on my parents.”
Sandra Escamilla, executive vice president of Children’s Aid, offered an inspirational speech with the theme “Make Every Minute Count.” She outlined the challenges of the current COVID-19 environment and encouraged young people to make the most of every minute to achieve their dreams.
Children’s Aid scholarships were presented to 19 students and 5 students received Garden of Dreams scholarships.
“To receive a scholarship feels so great because I have worked hard these last four years and receiving a scholarship awards me for my hard work,” said Nanisca Donkor a student who plans to attend The State University of New York. “Especially from an organization like Children's Aid that really cares for the well-being of students.”