New York — The following three stories are from the January 2009 graduation ceremony held at Western Suffolk BOCES in Dix Hill, New York.
One twenty-eight year old mother of four children shared her story. “As the fourth oldest of 10 children, I left school in the 8th grade to help my mother at home with my younger brothers and sisters. At 17, I returned to BOCES, but the streets were calling me and I abandoned my goal.” She returned to BOCES again…only to quit when she had a bad experience. Motivated by her daughter, she returned a third time to BOCES. She struggled with her writing but stayed with it. “My teachers kept encouraging me and wouldn’t give up on me even when I was ready to give up on myself.” Ten years after first returning to school, this NEDP graduate completed her program and now she is inspired to continue. “I intend to go on to college to become an early childhood teacher.”
One woman petrified of public speaking found the courage to give a graduation address. She shared how she struggled with a learning disability as a child and, because of family problems, ended up living in a group home as a teen. She found success working, but knew that getting her diploma was critical. NEDP inspired her to continue her education. “I believe my first step was really the decision to return to school and get my high school diploma no matter what problems or complications came my way. This was my most important lesson in life. I just completed my first semester (15 credits) at Suffolk Community College where I earned a GPA of 3.2. As a result of my good grades, I have qualified for the Army ROTC Reserves and will be training to become a combat medic and hope to work in a local hospital with returning Vets. This will be in addition to getting a master’s degree in teaching.”
One immigrant from South America who graduated did not know English when he came to the United States five years ago. This candidate chose NEDP because he knew that he could succeed because of the life skills he learned through working. “I worked doing a lot of things like landscaping, painting, home theatre installations, roofing, pumping gas at a gas station and some auto mechanics. I have now formed my own corporation, an online business.” Getting his diploma was another step toward achieving his goals. “To my fellow graduates, all of us have different roles, but now we have taken a big step and earned our high school diploma. I’m sure you have different ideas about where you are going or what you will do next, but don’t give up, because this is a great country and I believe there is opportunity for all of us... In the future I want to continue building my business and learn more about computer programming languages.”