Cambridge Community Learning Center’s Graduation Exercises
Graduation exercises for Cambridge’s Community Learning Center were held Thursday, June 18 at the Morse School. Fifteen adults received their GEDs, four their high school diplomas from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School through the Adult Diploma Program, nine graduated from the Bridge College Readiness Program, 27 were honored for completing ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Level 5, the most advanced level of ESOL offered at the Community Learning Center, and 29 were recognized for receiving their U.S. citizenship.
On hand to honor the graduates, in addition to Community Learning Center staff and student speakers, were Mayor E. Denise Simmons, members of the Cambridge City Council and various other elected and City officials, along with Cambridge Public Schools’ Interim Superintendent Carolyn Turk and Assistant City Manager for Human Services Ellen Semonoff.
Mina Reddy, Director of the Community Learning Center, welcomed the graduates, praised them for finding time in their busy lives to come to school, and congratulated their families and friends who “helped them on their journeys.” She thanked the funding sources who make the Community Learning Center’s work possible, and highlighted a Cambridge Community Foundation funded project which involved an ESOL class whose members interviewed successful immigrants in Cambridge, wrote up the interviews and published them in a newsletter.
Mayor Simmons, a veteran of 15 graduations so far this season, praised the students for “launching into a new chapter” of their lives, and being willing to take chances and “leave their comfort zone.” She invoked the courage of Rosa Parks and urged the graduates to head back into the community as “valued stakeholders in the community.”
ESOL 5 speaker Carrine Bury said that “the best gift one can receive in life is an education.” She thanked her classmates for supporting each other, and helping each other to not give up.
Bridge program graduate John Drayton, who came here only four years ago from Barbados, described finding a “heavenly place” (the Community Learning Center), receiving his GED there, graduating from the Bridge program (a transition to college program) and getting into Bunker Hill Community College. He plans to eventually go on to a four-year college, get a Masters in counseling, then work with youth.
The speaker from the High School program, Curtis Jackson, plans to go to the Bridge program, then to Bunker Hill Community College. He urged his fellow students to “take pride in who you are and always be yourself.” “Don’t stop here,” he urged them. “This is just the beginning.”
Friends of the Community Learning Center Board member Phyllis Benjamin presented 11 scholarships to Community Learning Center graduates. Jacobs Scholarship winners were Nadege Andreus, Bridget
Adkins Taylor, Rosalina Heredia and Yalem Yihdego. Ebbitt Scholarship winners were Matthew Correia and Claudia Guauque. The Sarah & Lillian Mothers Memorial Scholarship for Young Adults winner was Matthew Francis. The Friends of the Community Learning Center Scholarship winners were John Wycliffe Drayton, Jacqueline Holley, Adny De Pina Monteiro and Belachew Terefe Weldearegay.
The Volunteer of the year award was presented by Volunteer Coordinator Whit Hendon to James Ackerman, who has spent many Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for the past few years as an aide in the beginning reading class at the Community Learning Center. Hearing that in his capacity as a distinguished professor of architecture, Jim had been presented the key to a city in Italy, Mayor Denise Simmons presented him with the key to the City of Cambridge!
Felipe Vaquerano, ESOL counselor and teacher, presented the Employer of the Year award to the Irving House, a Cambridge bed-and-breakfast which has hired some Community Learning Center students and also has supported the CLC’s annual fund-raising raffle.
Lastly, CLC ESOL and citizenship teachers Deborah Lerme Goodman and Erin Reardon honored the 29 students who have received their citizenship this past year.
GED graduates included: Vivencia Bellegarde, Ronaldo M. De Oliveira, Kaila L. Douglas, Matthew Francis, Curtis A. Jackson, Isabelle Clara Jackson, Neil Launie McMullen, Zohra Raoui, Jacquelyn Marie Saint John, Giovanni Santini, Timothy Santos, Shagghary Anthony Scott, and Ellilta Yohannes.
Among the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School graduates from the Adult Diploma Program were Victor H. Cardona, Jr., Fabiola Doxaint, and Serena M. Michaud.
Graduates of the Bridge program included: Matthew A. Correia, John W. Drayton, Jamille Goddard, Claudia Guauque, Jacqueline D. Holley, Marie Nona R. Paul, Nancy Pierre, Altagracia Saint-Hilaire, and Belachew Terefe Weldearegay.
ESOL 5 graduates included: Khadija Abkari, Latifa Aissaoui, Alourde Antoine, Dianela Gomes Santos Barros, Marie Claude Bonne-Annee, Carrine G. Bury, Samuel Yohannes Buta, Edin Duque, Milan Gurung, Aya Kanai, Jacques Fils Leger, Kenny B. Marcellus, Lovely Merat Montina, Jose Carlos Moraes, Suzan Hanafy Hassan Mostafa, Marcus VP Pimenta, Fortunee Placide, Nilton Pureza, Marie Guirlande Racine, Tenzin Sangpo, and Jinyoung.
New citizens included: Vayne Alleyne, Ervin Brown, Marie Lourdes Daceus, Trinidad Popoca de Rodriguez, Zhizhao Huang, Alphonse Lauture, Norolie Woodlia Maximin, Carene Merisier, Mohammed Shaista Miah, Alejandro Montes, Jungok Jang Park, David Adrian Perez, Victoire Charles Pointjour, Francisco Rene Rodriguez, Suk Maya Watson, Zulfiqar Haider Zaidi, and Syeda Shahnaz Zulfigras.